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Young Adult Nonfiction Aboriginal & Indigenous

Turtle Island

The Story of North America's First People

by (author) Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2017
Aboriginal & Indigenous, Customs, Traditions, Anthropology, Ancient
Recommended Age
11 to 18
Recommended Grade
6 to 12
Recommended Reading age
11 to 18
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 2017
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Discover the amazing story of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from the end of the Ice Age to the arrival of the Europeans.

EUREKA! Nonfiction Children’s Book Awards Honoree • Waterloo Red Maple Nonfiction Award Winner • Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee


“Deftly weaves together traditional narratives with archaeology.”—Jennifer Raff in Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas

Unlike most books that chronicle the history of Native peoples beginning with the arrival of Europeans in 1492, this book goes back to the Ice Age to give young readers a glimpse of what life was like pre-contact. The title, Turtle Island, refers to a Native story that explains how North and Central America were formed on the back of a turtle. Based on archeological finds and scientific research, we now have a clearer picture of how the Indigenous people lived. Using that knowledge, the authors take the reader back as far as 14,000 years ago to imagine moments in time.

A wide variety of topics are featured, from the animals that came and disappeared over time, to what people ate, how they expressed themselves through art, and how they adapted to their surroundings. The importance of story-telling among the Native peoples is always present to shed light on how they explained their world. The end of the book takes us to modern times when the story of the Native peoples is both tragic and hopeful.

About the authors

ELDON YELLOWHORN (Piikani Nation) is a professor of First Nations Studies and archaeology at Simon Fraser University. He is a member of the Missing Children Project initiated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to search for children who died at residential schools. His previous books include the acclaimed Turtle Island: The Story of North America's First People and What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal. He lives in Vancouver, B.C.

Eldon Yellowhorn's profile page

KATHY LOWINGER is an award-winning author whose books include Give Me Wings! How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World (2015), Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People (2017), and What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal (2019). 

Kathy Lowinger's profile page


  • Winner, Waterloo Red Maple Nonfiction Award
  • Joint winner, Nautilus Book Award, Gold
  • Nominated, Red Maple Award
  • Commended, EUREKA! Nonfiction Children’s Book Awards Honoree, California Reading Association
  • Nominated, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Short-listed, Canadian Children’s Literature Roundtables Information Book Awards
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, *starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Editorial Reviews

“A well researched book of high quality graphic design and literary style. The format and organization of material is well done within a uniquely imaginative approach to the topic . . . highly recommended for both public and school libraries . . . also would be a valuable resource for elementary school teachers.”

Resource Links, 12/17

“An excellent textbook to use in elementary or middle school to supplement conventional offerings.”

Youth Services Book Review, 12/31/18

“Fills a gap in history.”

Best Books for Kids and Teens, *starred review, Spring/18

“Highly recommended for middle to high school collections for its innovative, nonstereotypical, and engaging approach to the history of Indigenous peoples in North America.”

School Library Journal, *starred review, 10/17

“An interesting read . . . a good addition to a school library.”

Green Teacher, 10/18

“Offers an appealing introduction to the diverse nations and remarkable resilience of the original inhabitants of this continent and is likely to inspire respect, pride, and a desire to learn more.”

Kirkus Reviews, 07/15/17

Other titles by Eldon Yellowhorn

Other titles by Kathy Lowinger

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