The animal characters in the Our Smallest Warriors, Our Strongest Medicine storybooks are a source of comfort and remind us that our animal relatives have lessons to teach us, too. The eagle, hawk, and dog relatives from the storybook are being given new life in some communities thanks to a generous donation by Bill Clarke and Douglas Co. They sent 9,000 plush toy eagles, hawks, and dogs to accompany the storybooks to Indigenous families and children. These plush toy animals have been shared together with copies of the second storybook in eight US states with more than six tribes and one urban Native community.
Throughout the pandemic, a team at the Center engaged a collaborative work group to create two storybooks that combine public health guidance and information with Indigenous values and illustrations to represent Indigenous peoples and communities. The first storybook, Our Smallest Warriors, Our Strongest Medicine: Overcoming COVID-19, tells the story of twins Tara and Virgil as they cope with the pandemic and learn that caring for their community and practicing handwashing, mask wearing, and physical distancing can help to keep themselves and their community safe and strong. The second book, Our Smallest Warriors, Our Strongest Medicine: Honoring our Teachings during COVID-19, continues the story of Tara and Virgil with updated information and stories around vaccinations, coping with emotions, changes the pandemic has brought to our daily lives, and more. More than 42,000 copies of the first storybook were delivered to 105 tribal communities across 27 states and 12 First Nations communities in Canada. To date, more than 43,000 copies of the sequel have been shared with 100 tribal communities across 29 states. Learn more about this book, take our caregiver survey, and more at bit.ly/OurSmallestWarriors.
In addition to the donation of the stuffed toys to accompany the books, Mr. Clarke via the Osprey Foundation has supported the Center in hiring Indigenous faculty leaders through his gifts to the Mathuram Santosham Chair in Native American Health; projects to support safe housing environments with the White Mountain Apache; work to improve water security with Navajo Nation, and general support for the Center and its COVID-19 response.
We’re incredibly grateful for all the thoughtful donations and funders that continue to support our work to promote health and well-being for Indigenous children and families across the country.