A children’s book lovingly depicts a year in the lives of modern Native Americans.
An illustration from We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. (© 2018 Frané Lessac/Charlesbridge)
Too often, popular narratives about Native Americans are set in the past, as if indigenous peoples aren’t still around. It is, therefore, nice to see a book like We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, which depicts a year in the lives of modern Native Americans. Framed around the concept of otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah), a word used by Cherokee people to express gratitude, this new nonfiction picture book for children includes Cherokee words and their phonetic translations throughout, as well as a glossary and Cherokee syllabary at the end. It lovingly captures the warmth of community, whether listening to tribal leaders speak about nulistanidolv (history) during the Cherokee National Holiday or gathering as a multigenerational family to share stories and “savor buttery bean bread and steamy hominy soup” on a snowy day. Written by Traci Sorell, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrated by Frané Lessac, We Are Grateful (Charlesbridge, 2018; $17.99) is available from uuabookstore.org.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.