Brother Eagle, Sister Sky

by Susan Jeffers

Hardcover, 1991



Call number

811.3 Sea

Call number

811.3 Sea

Local notes

811.3 Sea



Dial (1991), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 32 pages


A Suquamish Indian chief describes his people's respect and love for the earth, and concern for its destruction.


Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 9.82 inches


0803709692 / 9780803709690



Media reviews

This is an attractive book with an appealing message. It is purportedly based on an 1855 speech, in which Chief Seattle regrets that whites do not share the American Indian caretaker approach to Nature. The text owes more to a 1970s filmscript, however, written to reflect modern-day ecological concerns… [and] it is impossible to judge how closely the text presented here reflects the original. The illustrations are attractive, but unfortunately, reflect Plains material culture, not Squamish.
1 more
Examining Multicultural Picture Books for the Early Childhood Classroom: Possibilities and Pitfalls [excerpt] Popular but Problematic Books: The First Pitfall The responses of Native critics to these three books suggest that neither critical acclaim nor representations of cultures other than European American can guarantee that a book is good multicultural literature. Regardless of how engaging the stories are, or how important their themes, even their subtle inaccuracies may contribute to cultural misunderstanding and to potential discomfort for children whose cultures are inaccurately portrayed. Both the mirror and the window are thus distorted.

User reviews

LibraryThing member LaurenDoubleU
4P, Illustrations: 3Q, Text: 1Q

In terms of popularity, the beautiful illustrations, environmental message will go over well (in the early 90s, it was a bestseller).

In terms of quality, the artwork is intricate and beautiful, but the rendering the of the subjects is problematic; if the point is to illustrate the Northwestern tribes, they are completely inaccurate, while if the point is to represent the diverse range of Native American tribes, the representations are incredibly narrow and fail here, too.

The writing, while it sounds pretty, historicizes all Native Americans as if they no longer exist. The story, including the afterward, essentializes Native Americans as inherently close to nature and paints them as an ancient memory. With no acknowledgement, the main message of Chief Seathl's speech is altered.
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LibraryThing member Ctorm
1Q 4P
While the paintings by Susan Jeffers are quite beautiful there are too many issues and missteps within this book to warrant a high quality book review. Chief Seattle's "speech" is warped and manipulated to fit the purposes of Jeffers environmental stance and the blatant ignorance of specific tribes is rather offensive. I also found the last two pages especially disturbing for what they seem to suggest (white family remains, native americans are merely ghosts). However this book is popular even to this day and I have encountered people who still rave about it.… (more)
LibraryThing member claudiathelibrarian
2Q- inaccuracies and misrepresentation plague this book. Severely adapted text does not resemble the words of Chief Sealth accepted by historians and the Suquamish people. Pen and ink illustrations of Native Americans from the Plains region are well-done, but unfortunately the subjects and settings are not appropriate for the setting of the text (Pacific Northwest).
3P- Some readers will enjoy the double spread images and the environmental message, but the inaccuracies and stereotypical images will offend many.
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LibraryThing member corydickason
I'm not sure whether or not I find this book sort of offensive. Chief Seattle's powerful words seem to be being co-opted by a white illustrator to make a point to white readers. I'd like to hear what members of Chief Seattle's tribe have to say about the paintings, before I shared the book with children.
LibraryThing member maeganpollard
This book is about how the Indian people saw the earth. They said we are one with the earth and earth is like our mother. Thewhite man from the goverenment wants to buy their land, and Chief Seattle doesn't know why. He doesn't understand why they want to damage the land and take away all its natural abilities. He wants to know what people are going to do when everything is gone. He says, "It will be the end if living and the beginning of survival." If we sell our land he wants it to be taken care of like he and his people took care of it.

I like this book because it will show children the importance of our land and how the air, land , and water can help us live naturally and we really don't need all the technology we have today in order to live. We, as people today, are jus spoiled to the technology.

In the clasroom, everyone could make a lists of five things that we could live without and still maintain in everyday life. We could also come up with some projects that would help our community be a better pollutant free place to live.
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LibraryThing member nathaliewargo
4starP. I don't think this book has characteristics of Radical Change, although it could be considered to introduce new perspectives.
LibraryThing member ababe92
This was a well illustrated book, that would help teach kids about how Native Americans live, and think the way they do.
LibraryThing member darlingdumpling
This book is pretty historically inaccurate and culturally insensitive, yet it has beautiful illustrations, which make it a popular book for kids, which is sad.
LibraryThing member CircusTrain
Innocently conceived, charmingly executed, disturbingly ignorant, dangerously inaccurate.
Still shaking my head over this one.
LibraryThing member marlasheffel
Absolutely beautiful pictures of Native Americans and their lands. The visual impact goes with the text so well that the reader actually feels emotion and gets carried away with the figures in the paintings. The end is a nice touch where the white family is replanting the clearcut forest and together with Native Americans they are trying to protect the land and the Earth.… (more)
LibraryThing member LisaMcG
culturally insensitive, inaccurate, and irresponsible - see oyate website
LibraryThing member John5918
A nice and simple book on ecology and spirituality with a Native American flavour.
LibraryThing member daisyacg
4Q 2P

This is a classic book but I think it seems a bit dated now and has almost a stereotypical view of American Indian culture. The tale is adapted from a supposed speech, but the illustrations, although very detailed and beautiful, are dating the book. I don't think that many children will pick this book out on their own, without parent or teacher encouragement.… (more)
LibraryThing member shane54
Great illustrations while sharing an adaptation of Chief, Seattle's, important message of caring for Mother Earth.
LibraryThing member llyramoon
lovely illustrations, great message
LibraryThing member rdg301library
Reading Level: Primary
Genre: Nonfiction - Informational
Summary: A message for Chief Seattle ad he describes the Native American’s love for the Earth and the want and need to preserve it.
Evaluation: This is a beautiful message from an Indian chief that clearly shows the students how much the Native Americans appreciated the land and nature. This message by Chief Seattle is beautifully written and is very descriptive when talking about the beautiful Earth that the Indians lived on. This book shows the reader that the Indians appreciated all the beauty of the Earth and lived as one with the land, rather than trying to destroy it. The illustrations are stunning and cover the entire page. They are done in fine-line pen with ink and dyes and capture the beauty of America and show how the Indians live.… (more)
LibraryThing member Gmomaj
Beautiful and lyrical. Although basically a picture book, just had to have this wonderful book..
LibraryThing member esterlin
Ages 5 to 8
Artistic Media: watercolors, pastels
Artistic Style: impressionism

Kindergarten-Third Grade. An adaptation of a speech with a powerful environmental message given by Chief Seattle during treaty negotiations in the 1850s is accompanied by detailed, colorful pen-and-ink illustrations of nature in all her glory as well as her destruction by human hands. Opening with moving words, "How can you buy the sky? How can you own the rain?", the complementary illustrations depict a romantic and picturesque view of Native Americans working in harmony with the land and a flourishing of plants and animals. As the tone of the speech becomes more cautionary, so do the illustrations—the lush landscapes become barren wastelands stripped of trees and animals. The book's strength lies in Jeffers' artistic ability to convey a stirring and timely environmental message. However, it falls disappointingly short in its overly simplistic and romanticized portrayal of Native Americans. Jeffers does a disservice to the complexity of Native Americans by lumping all Native American tribes in together and using stereotypical Indian images (teepees, fringe clothing, and canoes). The minimal attempt to acknowledge the origins and source of the speech does not override the lack of source notes or list of resources. A disappointing read despite its moving, environmental message.… (more)
LibraryThing member MerryMary
The source of this beautiful salute to our world and our connection to it is shadowed. Perhaps it was first voiced by Chief Seattle, perhaps it was not. But the concept is important and valuable, as well as lyrically written. And, oh my, the illustrations! Subtle, multi-layered, beautiful. The more you look, the more you see.… (more)
LibraryThing member Paul.Bentley
There's no reliable transcript of what Si'ahl said to his gathered people in March 1854. He was a Native American though, so we should just assume it was all about bears and deers, and leaping spirits, and the importance of harnessing renewable energy for a sustainable future. He didn't ride a horse, as he wasn't a plains Indian, but what kind of boring illustration would that make? I'd like to think that Chief Seattle invented the environmental movement with a searing vision-warning about our industrialised future and that he didn't just have a moan about being shuffled off to a reservation. Reading this, I can believe that he did.… (more)
LibraryThing member Sara_Killough

Though the language may be difficult for early elementary school children to read on their own, Chief Seattle's powerful message speaks to children and adults of all ages. The vivid illustrations add emotional depth to the message and evoke thoughts of an emotional connection between humanity and nature.… (more)




(105 ratings; 3.8)
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