We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

We Are Water Protectors... written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade... is a children's book inspired by the Indigenous-led environmental protests that have been held across the United States. In 2021, this book received the Caldecott Medal for its illustrations. We Are Water Protectors is a historically significant book, not only because it shines a light on the environmental protests happening, but also because Michaela Goade is the first Indigenous illustrator to win a Caldecott Medal. Keep reading to learn more about We Are Water Protectors and for three social studies minilessons you can use in your classroom.

Learn about the book We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. Blog post includes language arts and social studies minilessons. #waterislife #representationmatters

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Author's Summary

Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all...

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption—a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.

๐ŸŽ Title: We Are Water Protectors
๐ŸŽAuthor: Carole Lindstrom
๐ŸŽIllustrator: Michaela Goade
๐ŸŽPublisher: Roaring Book Press
๐ŸŽDate: March 17, 2020
๐ŸŽPages: 40

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

Social Studies Minilesson #1: We Are Still Here

We Are Water Protectors is a children's book inspired by real people and real events. Throughout the book, we see the words we are still here repeated several times. When reading We Are Water Protectors with your students and children, draw their attention to these words. Why does the author say we are still here over and over? What message is the author sending us? What does she want us to know?

...We stand
With our songs
And our drums.
We are still here...

The message is simple. Indigenous people... also known as Native Americans in the United States or First Nations in Canada... are still very much alive and are active in our communities. Too often history books mislead children into thinking that the Indigenous cultures are things of the past... similar to the way the cultures of the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks, or ancient Mesopotamians are a thing of the past. While reading We Are Water Protectors, smash that misconception. Emphasize to your students that Indigenous people, tribes, and nations are still here.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

Social Studies Minilesson #2: Geography

Author Carole Lindstrom is Anishinabe/Metis and is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. She was born and raised in Nebraska and currently lives in Maryland. Illustrator Michaela Goade is an enrolled member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes and currently lives in Alaska.

Pull out a map of North America. What city, state, and country do you and your students live in? Help your students find them on the map. When you are done, work together to find Nebraska, Maryland, and Alaska. How far away are they from where your students live? What interesting landmarks, bodies of water, and landforms do you see on the map? What are the state capitals? What else can you learn from the map?

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

Social Studies Minilesson #3: Building Connections to Current Events

Environmental protests similar to the one led by the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota are the inspiration for We Are Water Protectors. In 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan to build an oil pipeline (Dakota Access Pipeline... also known as DAPL) from North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to Illinois. They claimed that building the pipeline would pose no threat to the environment, to communities, or to historical/cultural landmarks. 

What the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to mention is that the pipeline would run directly under Lake Oahe... the primary source of water for the people living on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. They also failed to mention that the construction of the pipeline would damage culturally sacred sites on the reservation... a significant violation of the existing treaties between the people of Standing Rock and the United States government.

Stand With Standing Rock: Solidarity Protest in San Francisco

Later that year, the citizens of Standing Rock and their supporters gathered in protest of the broken treaties and the potential risk to their drinking water and sacred sites. This protest lasted from April 2016 to February 2017.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was completed in April 2017 and became fully operational two months later. There were at least five documented oil leaks in the pipeline in 2017 alone. More leaks and spills have occurred since then.

Use the map again to find North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Lake Oahe, and the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

When reading We Are Water Protectors with your children and students, talk about the Dakota Access Pipeline... what it is, why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build it, the problems it caused, and the potential problems it can cause in the future.  Ask about the black snake that was in the story. How does that black snake symbolize the pipeline? What does the snake's poison represent? The people in the story were going to fight the black snake. How did the people fight the black snake in real life? Even though the pipeline was built, do your students think the people of Standing Rock have stopped fighting the black snake? Is the fight against the black snake truly over?

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

#waterislife #noDAPL #standwithstandingrock

Did you enjoy reading about We Are Water Protectors? If so, check out these blog posts about related topics:

search words: Water is life, water, water cycle, Indigenous Peoples, Native American, First Peoples, Indians, pollution, environmental stewardship, protecting the environment, ecology, Earth Day

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