Native American Heritage Month Collection Spotlight: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

This Collection Spotlight highlights titles in the the CECH Library’s Kretschmer Collection of Native American Children’s Literature. This special collection features children’s books with Native American themes, written and illustrated by Native American authors and artists.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga / written by Traci Sorell ; artwork by Frané Lessac / 2018

We Are Grateful is a stunning picture book with vibrant illustrations that takes the reader through every season in the perspective of the Cherokee people. Focusing on the Cherokee word otsaliheliga which represents gratitude, we see all the ways that one might use it in their culture. Sorell provides the phonetic spelling of each Cherokee word, as well as a list of definitions and a syllabary at the end, providing a great introduction to the traditions and language.

Through the depictions of Cherokee food, games, and holidays, young children may explore gratefulness and what it means to be thankful in other cultures. This is a perfect read for Native American Heritage Month, and a great, modern introduction to the Cherokee culture, providing children a way to connect and learn more about the heritage.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is available from CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022

Collection Spotlight: Language in Native American Children’s Literature

Image of the book Coyote and Little TurtleThe CECH Library’s Kretschmer Collection is home to many diverse subjects of Native American Children’s Literature, including native languages. There are books written in the Cherokee, Clallam, Hopi, Inuktitut, and Navajo languages for teaching and celebrating native languages with children. Titles include Haishą’ T’áá K’ad Dlǫ́ǫ́’ Silįį’? / Who Wants to Be a Prairie Dog?, a Navajo fairy tale written by Ann Nolan Clark, which is written in English and Navajo side-by-side; Iisaw Niqw Yöngösonhoya / Coyote and Little Turtle, a Hopi tale based on a story by Herschel Talashoema, edited by Emory Sekaquaptewa and Barbara Pepper, as well as illustrated by Hopi children, which presents the story with Hopi and English side-by-side and then gives lessons on translation; Otsaliheliga / We Are Grateful, by Traci Sorell, written in English with some Cherokee words given, along with their pronunciations; and Seya’s Song, by Ron Hirschi, written in English with some words of the Clallam language, native to the northwest, inserted into the story and explained at the end of the book in a glossary.

These books encourage readers to understand the importance of native languages and the pride associated with them. In every book, language is intricately tied with culture, tradition, beauty, and art. You can explore the many brilliant books of the Kretschmer Collection on the third floor of the CECH Library, located in 300 Teachers-Dyer Complex.

Sara Polk, CECH Library Student Assistant
A&S Anthropology & Archaeology, 2020

Introducing the Kretschmer Collection of Native American Children’s Literature

three book covers

CECH Library is home to the Kretschmer Collection, an amalgamation of over 275 books about indigenous cultures written and/or illustrated by Native Americans. Collected by Professors Emeriti Richard and Laura Kretschmer, these books were graciously donated so that many could benefit from their powerful messages and thought-provoking stories. Fiction and non-fiction titles offer a variety of reading levels that can appeal to nearly every age group.

The collection, with its range of subjects and levels, serves to encourage learning about native cultures among our community. As education is among the best ways to combat prejudice and inequality, the collection and its themes can contribute to broadening the perspectives of communities locally and across the United States. Themes present in these books include language, family, nature, folklore, prehistory, and resilience.

You can explore the many brilliant books of the Kretschmer Collection on the third floor of the CECH Library, located in the Teachers-Dyer Complex 300.

Sara Polk, CECH Library Student Assistant
A&S Anthropology & Archaeology, 2020