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Book Buzz: We Are Water Protectors

Water is the first medicine.

These words open the story of North American indigenous people’s story of their heritage and concern for the well-being of Mother Earth. Using a story line of a grandmother teaching her granddaughter the necessity of water and its sacredness, Lindstrom’s simple text tells a tale of water’s place in our lives. From the nourishment of a mother’s womb to the rhythm of a river’s flow, water is essential to life and must be protected. 

The narrative weaves a prophecy of a black snake that will come to destroy the land. It will poison the water, and life around it will die. The granddaughter realizes that she must help protect those who cannot fight for themselves: the winged ones, the crawling ones, the four-legged, the two-legged, the plants, the trees, the rivers, the lakes. In the indigenous people’s culture, we are directly related to the earth and must protect it.

The story visually narrows to the event of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016… but only in broad visual terms. Using this one event as a metaphor for acting and bringing to light the destruction of our natural resources, Lindstrom makes the point that our natural resources are fragile.

Goade’s Caldecott Medal winning lush watercolors lend a visual account to the watery connections in the story. Vibrant with plants and animals rendered in natural greens and blues, the story moves along in a natural flow. With the black snake as visual metaphor for environmental concerns, the bright yellows, oranges and reds are used to render the unnatural right angles of man’s pollution.

Written as a lovely (and not heavy handed) folk tale and inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors is a delicate testimonial to encourage us all to be good stewards of water and all its benefits.

About The Author

Chuck Galey

Chuck Galey has drawn all his life. “I had everything I needed growing up in a small farm town in the Mississippi Delta; a pencil, a piece of paper and a long-winded Baptist preacher.” He has illustrated over seventy educational books and eleven children’s picture books, one that he authored. When he is not working on books in his studio in Jackson, Mississippi, he is presenting exciting school programs that inspire and astonish students. His programs, listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster, encourage them to be creative in their reading, writing and art. For additional information about Chuck , visit his website:

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