“We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga” By Traci Sorell, Illustrated By Frané Lessac

The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah. Ages 3–7.



About The Author

Traci grew up immersed in stories. The ones her mother told at bedtime and the accounts of her ancestors’ lives mirrored her Cherokee heritage. Books she brought home from the library and selected during her school’s annual Reading is Fundamental (RIF) Day showed a world beyond her life in rural northeastern Oklahoma. As an adult, Traci has lived in four U.S. time zones and abroad in Madrid, Spain. Her early writing reflected the Native American history, law, and policy focus of her educational and professional background. Now she lives back inside the Cherokee Nation with her family. She started writing for young people when she wanted more contemporary fiction and nonfiction children’s books featuring Native Americans to share with her son.


Read Aloud Tips

  • Use the book during a unit on Native American studies. Have students identify and recognize Native American cultural through celebrations, art, and dress.
  • Read an article or watch a video about current Native American life. Have students note the similarities and differences.
  • Go through glossary with the students and have them note the cultural words on language walls.

“Colorful, folk art-style illustrations show Cherokee people during ceremonies, in family gatherings large and small, and outdoors enjoying each of the four seasons, always expressing gratitude. … The variety of skin tones represented in the illustrations likewise depicts a present-day reflection of the diversity that exists within the Cherokee people. Occasional Cherokee words are written in Romanized form, phonetically, in Cherokee characters, and in English —a lovely grace note. A gracious, warm, and loving celebration of community and gratitude.” – Kirkus Reviews

But this Book!

Information Sheet – We Are Grateful

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