In an effort to get further outside the confines of my limited perspective as a white woman in South Minneapolis, I started following the Facebook pages of a number of Indigenous tribes in Minnesota this summer. With all of its flaws, Facebook offers this unique opportunity to know what’s happening in quiet and often forgotten communities. By following those communities and sharing the news they post, we have the opportunity to amplify those forgotten voices and bring just a little more justice and equity to the world.
One of the pages I follow is Native News Online, where I read about the FIRST Indigenous winners of the Caldecott Medal, an award given for the most distinguished American picture book published the previous year. "We Are Water Protectors," illustrated by Michaela Goade, written by Carole Lindstrom won this year’s medal.
My family immediately wanted to find a way to support the book. My daughter and I started tossing around ideas. Our nieces have birthdays coming up. We could purchase the book for them. But then we started thinking about the kids in our community. We live less than a block from Little Earth of United Tribes. These are the kids represented in "We Are Water Protectors," and we started wondering how we could get this book into their hands. People with resources (mostly white) won’t have any trouble getting this book. They should most certainly read it, too, but kids who see themselves represented in this book are way less likely to have the means to get a copy.
And representation matters so much. I realized that when I found myself crying at Kamala Harris’ speech after the election. (Or years earlier when I found myself ridiculously tearing up over Wonder Woman in the theater.) I have heard story after story of children who saw the Obamas in the White House and commented on seeing someone with their own skin color.
Not only does representation matter but art and stories have the power to move us in ways that ordinary speeches and the news do not. My cousin-in-law commented after the inauguration that what moved the nation most that day was not the oath of office but the music and the poetry. What moved me most following the uprising this summer was the way that artwork poured out everywhere. Art and stories have the power to change us, to challenge us, and to heal us.
For these reasons, we decided to reach out to our neighbors at Little Earth and ask if it was a good idea to set up a way for people to sponsor a copy of We Are Water Protectors to give to the children at Little Earth and other Indigenous families in the community. We wanted to be respectful of that fact that there are so many other needs, and we weren’t sure that this was where we should focus our attention. But our friends gave us a big nod of approval and agreed to help distribute books when they came.
And so, this project was born. We are asking all of you to consider sponsoring a book (or several). The sponsorship page is on my daughter, Aurora’s, website. She’s a high school senior taking classes at the Institute for Production and Recording through the High School Advantage program, and building a website is a course project this semester. As has frequently been the case for her, Aurora decided to take a school assignment and turn it into an opportunity to work toward equity and justice for our community. She got straight to work learning the platform to put a shop on her website, and within a few days she had a page ready to go. And it’s ready for you!
Our hope is to raise enough funds to get a book into the hands of every child at Little Earth. Additional books will be distributed through organizations that serve Indigenous families in Minneapolis. This means that we would like to see at least 300 books sponsored. Books will be purchased through Birchbark Books, an Indigenous-owned, local, independent bookstore.
We are grateful for the partnership of the Midway Como Frogtown Monitor in sponsoring this project!
YOU can help by sponsoring a book here: bit.ly/bookspon
Amy Pass earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Theological Seminary. But perhaps her greatest lessons have come from raising two children and maintaining a 21-year marriage.
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