We Are Water Protectors: An Illustrated Celebration of Nature, Native Heritage, and the Courage to Stand Up for Earth

“Every story is a story of water,” Native American poet Natalie Diaz wrote in her sensational ode to her heritage, the language of the Earth, and the erasures of history.

From author Carole Lindstrom, member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, and artist Michaela Goade, member of the Central Council of the Tlingit a Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, comes We Are Water Protectors (town library)– a lyrical detailed celebration of cultural heritage and the guts to stand up for nature.

In the prophecy, this second course is strewn with black snakes– a symbolic image ominously reflected in the truth of the oil pipelines that cross-hatch Native lands with their grim message of turning nature from a source of life-wide vitality and reverence to a resource for human requirement and greed.

In the authors afterword, Lindstrom describes that in Ojibwe culture, females are thought about the protectors of the water and males of the fire. In her custom, there is a prophecy that paints two possible roadways from today to the future: One is the natural path, welcoming the spiritual relationship between people and the rest of the natural world long in the past ecologists and biologists discovered that “we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human”; the other is a course of abnormal acceleration, propelled by greed and meaningless technological frenzy.

We ourselves are a story of water– biologically and culturally, in our most elemental materiality and our mightiest metaphors.

Goade– who grew up in the coastal rain forests of Alaska, with an embodied awareness of the detailed relationship between water and life, and is the very first Native artist to earn the Caldecott Medal, the Nobel Prize of kidss book illustration– enhances the storys message with her lively art work drawing on concepts from Native folklore and mythology.

Influenced by the landmark locus of guts and resistance at Standing Rock– the 2016 motion that magnetized people from more than 5 hundred native nations and countless allies to take a position against the Dakota Access Pipeline, versus its concrete assault on a particular piece of land and versus its basic significance as threatening symbol of extractionism– the book welcomes young individuals to cast themselves as representatives of change and stewards of the natural world.

Radiating from the spirit of the story is a reflection of the touching message to the next generations, with which Rachel Carson said her farewell to life after awakening the environmental conscience of the American mainstream:

Enhance We Are Water Protectors with the terrific Scottish mountaineer and poet Nan Shepherd on the might and mystery of water and a sensational animated poem about our connection to Earth and to each other, then revisit another emotional detailed event of nature in The Blue Hour.

Yours is a grave and sobering duty, however it is also a shining chance. You go out into a world where mankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to show its maturity and its proficiency– not of nature, but of itself.

Illustrations courtesy of Roaring Brook Press; pictures by Maria Popova