Students celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day explore 12 challenges currently facing Native nations in Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac's impassioned and informative follow-up to We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.
We Are Still Here!, for ages 7-10, is framed as a dozen first-person school reports written by fictional children who highlight ways in which Native communities have responded to devastation wrought by federal treaty-making. Each concept, spanning regions and with tribal specificity, fills a double-page spread. Historical scenes, such as "Assimilation" and "Allotment," evolve into modern themes including "Religious Freedom" and "Language Revival." Collectively, the reports showcase self-determination and the continuous agency of Native Nations despite efforts by the federal government to curtail sovereignty: "Despite the continued occupation of our homelands... and being mostly forgotten in US culture, Native Nations all say, 'We are still here!' "
Sorell (At the Mountain's Base), an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, honors the vibrant contributions of many Native Nations with her careful research. Lessac (Under the Milky Way), in her signature gouache folk-art style, depicts culture and communities rooted in historical events and real locations, and features citizens with a wide range of skin tones and relationships. The presentation format of the text allows Sorell to introduce sophisticated concepts while leaving more complicated topics to her thorough backmatter. A timeline begins with the end of treaty-making in 1871, and additional material invites readers to delve more deeply. Native Nations have struggled and survived, and the successful reunion of this creative pair delivers an empowering affirmation of resilient communities. --Kit Ballenger, youth librarian, Help Your Shelf