Stories and prophecies surrounding Mother Earth and Father Sky are abundant in indigenous folklore where Indigenous People have long protected the earth from those who would seek to abuse her resources. That’s why it is so wonderful to see that storytelling tradition carried on using today’s media outlets.

Carole Lindstrom, an Anishinaabe/Metis enrolled as a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Ojibwe tribe located in North Dakota has taken on the fight with her beautiful children’s book, We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade, which recalls water as “the first medicine,” the place from which we all started, a connecting and unifying force of creation. Today, water is under siege, the young protagonist in Water Protectors says, and inspired by her grandmother’s stories, she stands to lead her people to fight the Black Snake that threatens all of creation. The fight will not be easy but if she wins all of creation will benefit.

The Seven Fires Prophecy from the Anishinaabe tribe talks of two roads before mankind, one a natural path with respect for all living things, the other a paved-over highway that continues to accelerate at faster and faster speeds through technological and other advancements — much like the movie Koyaanisqatsi depicted four decades ago — one where the earth is an afterthought.

The Seven Fires Prophecy says the Black Snake is a result of the hurried path and, if left unchecked, will blanket the world in much harm and ultimate destruction. Indigenous Peoples believe the black snake is the embodiment of the oil pipelines that have spread like ley lines across our world.

In April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stood up to the Black Snake in an attempt to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s been years of picketing, protesting, and legal battles for the tribe and others, the latest being a win before the U.S. Court of Appeals who said a full environmental impact statement was needed before the future fate of the pipeline could be decided. The next hearing is scheduled for April 9, 2021.

Lindstrom’s protagonist says the fight will not be easy, but it is necessary if we are to survive.  

We stand

With our songs

And our drums

We are still here

Carole Lindstrom, We Are Water Protectors.

We Are Water Protectors won The Caldecott Award in 2020, given to “the most distinguished American picture book for children,” one of almost a dozen awards won by Lindstrom and Goade for this moving children’s story.

It is hard to imagine what the world would look like without these and other dedicated groups of earth keepers.

By working with native tribes — those who have held the land close to them like a mother holds a newborn — we just may be able to make our way out of our climate change mess.

It’s time to take the ancient medicine and walk the road of the natural path. It’s time to return to our Mother what belongs to her. It’s time to revere that which gives us life.

You can start by reading We Are Water Protectors.


Pam Lazos is an environmental lawyer with a passion for assuring access to clean water for all, a blogger, author of the novel “Oil and Water”, about oil spills and green technology, and the VP for Communications at Global Water Alliance. She practices laughter daily.