Written by: Russell M. Peters
Photographs by: John Madama
For ages: 6 years and up
Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Community, Native Culture and Traditions, Wampanoag, Family, Love, Friendship, Growing Up.
Summary: This book specifically covers the Wampanoag tribe in Mashpee on Cape Cod. It introduces members of the tribe and pairs them with photographs. Steven is the book’s main character and his grandfather Fast Turtle is teaching him to put on a clambake. The whole family gets involved with harvesting quahogs and getting stones ready for the fire pit. The book also talks about the Wampanoag traditions of protecting the earth, and the obligation each generation has to keep the land safe and clean for the next seven generations.
This book is incredibly descriptive, and covers both the physical preparations for the clambake as well as the cultural significance of Steven (whose tribal name is Red Mink) learning how and putting on the clambake to honor a tribe member named Hazel. The book covers a brief history of the tribe and how they were affected by the colonization of their land in the 1600’s when English settlers arrived by ship. This is a really beautiful book, and being written by Fast Turtle himself, the reader gets a true feeling of community and the reverence that tribe members have for the earth and each other.
- Fast Turtle is teaching Steven something important to his culture and tribal community by putting on a clambake. What have older family members taught you?
- How would you feel if you put on such a large event like Steven does?
- Have you ever been to Cape Cod?
Continuing the Conversation:
- A lot of times classrooms only learn about indigenous peoples and native communities during November, around Thanksgiving. It is crucial that these communities are not stuck in time and taught in a current manner so that students realize these people continue to thrive today, and we are all living on stolen tribal land. What tribes are from your area, and do they have a strong presence today?
- In the book, Steven talks specifically about a love for nature and preserving it for future generations. What can you do to help the natural areas near where you live? Try meeting with a local parks & rec department, or hosting a playground cleanup with some friends!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Russell M. Peters, also known as Fast Turtle, wrote this book in order to continue his life’s work of preserving his Wampanoag community and their traditions. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2002 and little is able to be found online about his life and devotion to these causes.
Even less is able to be found about photographer John Madama! We would love to find out more information, if anyone knows anything!