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Protecting our waters the Ojibway way

Author Carol Trembath to visit Alpena schools, and speak at GLMHC

Courtesy Photo Carol Trembath, pictured standing in center with her award-winning children’s book, “Water Walkers,” is seen here with Michigan Radio host Cynthia Canty, when she was featured on her show, “State Side with Cynthia Canty.”

ALPENA — Elementary students, adults, and everyone in between can learn about the history of Michigan’s indigenous people and their devotion to protecting the waters of our Great Lakes when award-winning author Carol Trembath comes to town in mid-October.

The renowned children’s author will be presenting in six area elementary schools Oct. 15, 16 and 17, thanks to the combined efforts of Thunder Bay Arts and the Alpha Xi Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society. The society purchased sets of all three of Trembath’s books in the “Water Walkers” series. Then at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, Trembath will be a featured presenter in the Sanctuary Lecture Series at Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

Trembath is a Michigan author and former teacher who carries with her a combined passion for quality education, history and protecting our waters.

“She’s very warm and she’s passionate about water, and keeping our Great Lakes clean,” said Midge Connon, who is a member of both Thunder Bay Arts and Delta Kappa Gamma Society.

Connon pitched the idea of buying and donating the books to the schools for this program.

Carol Trembath’s children’s book “Water Walkers” follows the journey of young Ojibway girl Mai walking around Lake Superior, as her grandmother told her to do, and to respect and protect the water so generations to come can appreciate it too. This tale is based on the true story of the Mother Earth Water Walkers circling the Great Lakes starting in 2003, led by the Ojibway and other indigenous tribes.

“Our Delta Kappa Gamma group, Alpha Xi Chapter, purchased the set for each of our public and parochial schools,” Connon said, explaining that “It’s a society of women educators.”

Trembath is a member of the society as well.

“She’s a Delta Kappa Gamma member from downstate, Howell, Michigan,” Connon said of Trembath. “And I met her at a convention a year ago in the spring, and I was very impressed with her presentations.”

Connon bought the first two books, and got to thinking they are so well-written and educational, with such beautiful illustrations, that our students could definitely benefit from reading them. They adhere to common core state standards, and include cross curriculum activities, words to know, as well as print and web resources.

“As I looked at them, I thought, golly, we need to have these in our schools,” Connon said. “And so I talked to my members. It wasn’t in our budget, so individual members gave me money to buy the books.”

a map from Trembath’s book “Ripples & Waves,” of the path the Water Walkers follow around Lake Huron, traveling a loop through Sault Ste. Marie, Alpena, Saginaw, and into Canada through Sarnia, Goderich, Owen Sound, Midland, Parry Sound around Georgian Bay, past Manitoulin Island and back to Sault Ste. Marie.

The group donated a set of three to all six elementary schools in the Alpena Public Schools system: Besser, Ella White, Hinks, Lincoln, Sanborn and Wilson. They also donated a set to the two parochial schools: All Saints Catholic School and Immanual Lutheran School, as well as Hillman and Posen schools. Connon said a set is $45, and they went to 10 schools, so the total was $450.

“Water Walkers” (2016) follows the journey of young Ojibway girl Mai walking around Lake Superior, as her grandmother told her to do, and to respect and protect the water so generations to come can appreciate it too. This tale is based on the true story of the Mother Earth Water Walkers circling the Great Lakes starting in 2003, led by the Ojibway and other indigenous tribes of Michigan. The story continues with “Stepping Stones” (2017) about walking Lake Michigan, and “Ripples & Waves” (2019) about the trek around Lake Huron, passing through Alpena along the way.

The purpose of the books is “to raise awareness about the harm being done to the Great Lakes,” Trembath’s website states. “The stories are based on what Native People have been doing for the last 14 years to protect water. They are carried in three of Michigan’s National Parks — Isle Royale, Keweenaw, and Sleeping Bear Dunes. … The Water Walkers books are a tribute to the many Native People who have dedicated themselves to walking 19,500 miles around each of the Great Lakes, rivers, and waterways to draw attention to the condition of water and responsible usage.”

All three books are published by Lakeside Publishing MI. Talented Native American Artist David W. Craig, enrolled Chippewa (Ojibway), illustrated all three books.

While in the schools, Trembath will present to third through fifth graders. Each school received a packet with a variety of handouts and activities for the students.

“Stepping Stones,” detailing the journey around Lake Michigan

The original Water Walker Josephine Mandamin devoted her life to raising awareness about preserving and saving the Great Lakes. She passed away at age 77 in February of this year, having logged more than 19,500 miles around all the Great Lakes in her quest to end water pollution. She wanted the world to understand that water is sacred.

Thunder Bay Arts just received a grant for $1,200 from the Women’s Giving Circle through the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, which nearly covers the cost of bringing Trembath into the schools, Connon said. She added that Thunder Bay Arts wants to continue to focus on education each year going forward, bringing more authors and presenters into the schools in the future.

The lessons in Trembath’s books are an excellent complement to the ongoing educational programs provided to area schools by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) in partnership with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. The Friends of TBNMS are excited to co-host a reception with Thunder Bay Arts, Alpha Xi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society for Trembath, followed by her presentation and book-signing. The books will be available for sale in the Sanctuary Store. They are also available online at Amazon.com.

Born and raised in Michigan, Trembath has made protecting our water through education her lifelong focus and passion. She has been a teacher, librarian, and media specialist for 28 years. She has a master’s degree in Education from Wayne State University in Library and Information Science, a master’s degree in Education Technology from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Western Michigan University. Her hope is that readers of her books will become more aware of Native teachings and become involved in recycling and protecting the environment. Her books have won several prestigious awards.

Trembath could not be reached prior to deadline because she is currently traveling in Canada as part of the research for her next Water Walkers book. She will return to the U.S. on Oct. 10.

“Ripples & Waves,” about the Lake Huron journey.

Courtesy Photo Native American Artist David W. Craig, enrolled Chippewa (Ojibway), illustrated all three of Carol Trembath’s children’s books, “Water Walkers,” “Stepping Stones,” and “Ripple & Waves.”

The newest book Trembath has written is “Out of Slavery: A Novel of Harriet Tubman,” published recently in 2019. It follows the journey of Cece, Tilly and Lou, as Tubman helps them navigate north on the Underground Railroad to enlist in the Union Army. Tubman and her companions join forces with Frederick Douglass, Colonel Robert Shaw, and Sergeant William Carney “to preserve a divided nation and free a people caught in the web of slavery,” as told on the back cover of the book. “It is a story of romance and realism, and the triumphs and tragedies of war. ... Through Harriet we can feel our true history and in her strong voice we hear the echoes of freedom.”

Trembath’s books, “Water Walkers” and “Stepping Stones” both won awards.

Trembath’s books, “Water Walkers” and “Stepping Stones” both won awards.