Review of We Are Still Here! by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac

We Are Still Here!

Native American Truths Everyone Should Know

by Traci Sorell
illustrated by Frané Lessac

Charlesbridge, 2021. 40 pages.
Review written June 30, 2021, from a library book
Starred Review

This picture book has the frame of kids from a Native Nations Community School making presentations on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It does throw a lot of information at the reader, but the information is presented in digestible amounts.

There’s a theme throughout the book, straight from the title. The beginning spread sets up the book:

Our Native Nations have always been here. We are Indigenous to the continent now called North America. Our leaders are sovereign and have power to make rules. Our ways of life changed when white people arrived from Europe….

Most people do not know what happened to Native Nations and our citizens after treaty making stopped in 1871.

Despite the continued occupation of our homelands,
regular attacks on our sovereignty,
and being mostly forgotten in US culture,
Native Nations all say,
“We are still here!”

The spreads in the rest of the book tell about aspects of Native Nations’ history after 1871 and all end with the refrain, “We are still here!”

The topics covered include Assimilation, Allotment, Indian New Deal, Termination, Relocation, Tribal Activism, Self-determination, Indian Child Welfare and Education, Religious Freedom, Economic Development, Language Revival, and Sovereign Resurgence. These are presented simply, in ways an upper elementary school child can understand. That’s a good thing, because I had a lot to learn, too.

The text tells about ways treaties were broken, but also about ways that Native people made sure their voices were heard.

There’s lots of informative back matter. The author is absolutely right and this history isn’t taught in school – I had some inklings because of my own reading, but I still have a lot to learn. And this beautiful book will help kids get a better start.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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