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Books to Build On: Indigenous Literatures for Learning

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Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit’ada, Taanishi, Hello, Welcome!

Why do we believe in teaching and learning with Indigenous literatures? We believe that “starting with story” allows us to centre Indigenous voices, knowledges, people, and experiences in our teaching and learning. Stories embody communities and their ways of knowing, being, and doing in an appealing form—reaching the heart, not only the head. Stories are inherently relational; the story teller and listener are drawn into relationship with each other and with the story being told. Because relationships call for mutual responsibility, storytelling as a mode of sharing knowledge draws people into reciprocal webs of connection. Stories are not just for entertainment; they guide how we live our lives. When deciding how to engage others in the work of Indigenous education, we believe in starting with story. We appreciate storytelling for how it respects Indigenous knowledge systems, ensures that knowledges remain rooted in context, and emphasises the value of personal voice and collective listening. Stories are a pathway into relational work in education. 

The University of Calgary, located in the heart of Southern Alberta, both acknowledges and pays tribute to the traditional territories of the peoples of Treaty 7, which include the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprised of the Siksika, the Piikani, and the Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Goodstoney First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta (Districts 5 and 6).

The University of Calgary is situated on land Northwest of where the Bow River meets the Elbow River, a site traditionally known as Moh’kins’tsis to the Blackfoot, Wîchîspa to the Stoney Nakoda, and Guts’ists’i to the Tsuut’ina. On this land and in this place we strive to learn together, walk together, and grow together “in a good way.”

For our team, we believe land acknowledgements are a continual and living obligation to not only acknowledge the traditional territories of Treaty 7 peoples, but also to prioritise these peoples in our work. For these reasons, we privilege Treaty 7 texts as the starting point for our database and work outwards from these lands. We hope that as you use this website, you remember the traditional territories on which you live and prioritise using and teaching the texts that originate from those peoples. 

Books to Build On is an interactive web resource designed to assist educators with weaving Indigenous ways of being, connecting, doing, and knowing into their teaching and learning by starting with story. Responding to the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, to current provincial professional standards for K-12 education, and to mandates for higher education such as the UCalgary Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, this resource is intended to help educators build foundational knowledge and competencies in Indigenous education. Below you will find a searchable database of Indigenous literary texts and diverse media that can be used within education. This website is intended for K-12 teachers in all stages of their professional journeys—from B.Ed. students to experienced teachers—and for instructors in higher education. However, beyond these audiences, we hope that this interactive resource will be useful to anyone interested in exploring Indigenous texts and expanding their engagements with Indigenous communities.

Books to Build On is led by a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students, teachers, and community members. Additionally, dozens of current teachers have collaborated on the development of teaching and learning ideas (such as lesson plans) to accompany our diverse collection of Indigenous stories. On an ongoing basis, we provide workshops to share this website and solicit feedback from educators and community members: your feedback also enriches this work. The website itself is maintained by the Communications Team at the Werklund School of Education. 

We gratefully acknowledge funding and support from:

  • Alberta Education
  • The Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
  • Academic Support Offices, Werklund School of Education
  • The Office of Indigenous Engagement, University of Calgary
  • Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary

Many of these texts will be available from public libraries. Although we recognize that ordering online from large retailers is often cheaper and more convenient, we ask that you consider purchasing your texts from local bookstores to your area or Indigenous-owned bookstores. Here are some of our favourite Indigenous-owned bookstores across Turtle Island (all provide online ordering!):

Indigenous Book Vendors:

If you would like your bookstore listed here please email us!

A question teachers often face is, “How do I know if something I’ve found is a “good” resource to use in my classroom?” For the texts that are already in our database, we are guided by the phrase “nothing about us without us,” a slogan that gained popularity through South African disability activists Michael Masutha and William Roland in the 1990s. With this in mind, we do our best to include texts by Indigenous creators and that engage respectfully with Indigenous communities, knowledges, and movements. We also recognize that some great Indigenous texts involve collaborations with non-Indigenous folks. We are continually adding and removing sources based on community feedback. Should you have any recommendations for us, please reach out to us at For books that you find that are not on the website, consider using the following resource to help you evaluate sources: Guiding Voices.

If you are interested in a Books to Build On workshop, please reach out to us at

Call for new lesson plan donations

Are you interested in contributing to the lesson plan selection available on Books to Build On? Have you written a lesson plan that accompanies an existing resource, or a resource you think we should include? Or, are you interested in creating a lesson plan for one of the resources? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the Books to Build On Team would love to hear from you! We are currently seeking new lesson plan donations for the site. If your idea/lesson fits with our needs, it will go through our vetting and editing process before being added to the site. For more information, please contact our team at, with your idea and teaching qualifications.

We hope that you enjoy this website as a starting place for deepening your engagement with Indigenous literatures for learning.

As we continually update and improve this website in the spirit of community engagement and collaboration, we value your feedback, corrections, suggestions, and questions. Please reach out to us at We hope that you enjoy this website as a starting place for deepening your engagement with Indigenous literatures for learning.