Let’s face it, Native Americans/First Nations characters don’t show up very often in mainstream science fiction and fantasy stories, and when they do, they’re often plagued by stereotypes. They’re monosyllabic mystics, stuck in the 1800s, or they’re relegated to laconic (a.k.a stoic) warriors in horse cultures, or, even worse, erased from the continent entirely.
I’m not sure why the Indigenous people of North America fail to evolve in the imagination of science fiction and fantasy writers. Why we get trapped in the amber of yesteryear, never to break out of notions of noble savagery, braids, and loincloths. In a field known for its creativity, science fiction and fantasy has let its readers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, down. But I am happy to say this is changing, and it’s mostly changing because readers are getting to hear a lot of great Indigenous voices telling their own stories in the genre. From novels to short fiction to comic books, Indigenous writers are claiming speculative fiction as their own, weaving original worlds that critique colonialism or simply tell a great story that don’t necessarily engage European conquest at all.
I’ve rounded up five speculative fiction books written by Indigenous to the Americas authors that I think everyone should read. Each one tells a story about our continued existence now and into the future.