Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimee Craft

Cover image.

Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimee Craft, illustrated by Luke Swinson (9781773214962)

A girl sits on the bank of the kitchi sipi with her Mishomis. He has taught her how to sit still in nature and listen. He had lived on that land all of his life and though she lived in the city, it was here that she felt most at home. Every spring, he would head into the woods for weeks and call her when he returned. Then she would come and visit, spending time at the river with him, experiencing the world around them by watching and listening. As the sun broke up the ice on the river, he reminded her that they all have responsibilities to the land and water, and stories. Then he shared the story of the first treaty between the moon, the sun and the earth to create life. Treaties form the basis of all relationships, from relationships with wildlife to a treaty with the English crown where the land seemed to be owned. As nature continued to move around them and the seasons shifted, she could see what those treaties had created for them as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow.

First, I must mention the small size of this book. It’s more like a field guide size, which is just right for reading at a river bank, around a fire, or curled together as a shared story. The book speaks directly to treaties, from the original treaty between sky and earth to the damaging treaties with the Crown. The importance of treaties to the Anishinaabe people, allowing them to understand their place in Creation, is emphasized here including the respect that is meant to be shown through a treaty. Anishinaabemowin words are used throughout the text, easily understood through the context in the sentences.

The art by an Anishinaabe illustrator embraces the landscape of the river and the hills. He shows them in changing light and season, creating beautiful yet simple vistas that cradle the text.

This small book speaks loudly about the understanding of Indigenous treaties and their deep history and meaning. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Annick Press.