Sol and I wandered into Antipodes our local bookshop for a quick browse that resulted in an impulse purchase of American author and illustrator Susan Jeffers' book Brother Eagle, Sister Sky. I was captivated by Jeffers paintings and the 'story' that accompanied them. The words in the book are based on the message of Native American Chief Seattle (Seathl).
this image via Jeffers' website
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky has been met with both praise and criticism and I was in two minds whether to write about it here at all out of respect for those who are offended by the book. The main and very important criticisms are that Jeffers has adapted Chief Seattle's words to suit her creation of the book and that her paintings depict Native American people in a stereotypical way.
I decided to write about Brother Eagle, Sister Sky here initially because in our family Jeffers book opened up further talking about Indigenous people as traditional caretakers of the land and about the precious nature of the environment. And that's a positive thing in my view. And then as I read further into the controversial nature of the book that became a reason to write about it too. To start a conversation about culture and accuracy in children's literature.
These words are from the book:
"This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us.
We did not weave the web of life,
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves"
What are you teaching your children about Indigenous culture? Are you reading any great children's books about culture?