Celebrating Indigenous Authors: Roy Henry Vickers & Robert Budd

Teachers are always looking for books to pair with required units of study. Most students in the 3rd or 4th grade study the indigenous cultures of their region. Quality picture books by indigenous creators are few and far between so I was thrilled to find  Peace Dancer and Orca Chief by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd.

Both books are traditional stories from the village of Kitkatla in British Columbia. This is the home town of the authors. Roy Henry Vickers is an artist and writer and Robert Budd is a historian. Roy holds a leadership position within his tribe. They belong to the Gitxaala Nation which is part of the larger language group known as the Tsimshian. Kitkatla is on the coast of British Columbia  just east of the Islands of Haida Gwaii.

Peace Dancer is a traditional tale about the fate that befalls the people when children fail to respect a crow. It’s a flood narrative, which is interesting because so many ancient cultures have some kind of flood story. It gives the explanation for why a peace dancer is so important in a potlatch ceremony. In the author note, Roy Henry Vickers explains that he is the peace dancer for his community.

Orca Chief is also a story about the importance of respect for the natural world. In this story a group of disrespectful fishermen are taken under the sea to visit the Chief of the Orcas. After the fishermen apologize the Orca Chief forgives them and shows them ways to find many good things to eat–herrings, oolichan, and crabs.

Both books have stunning illustrations, combining a mainstream modern painting style with traditional formline art to represent the fish, birds and animals. They are vividly colored and brilliantly produced on the highest quality paper. If Vickers and Budd were Americans and therefore eligible, they would be contenders for the Caldecott with each of these books.

This week is small press week and it’s worth noting that these books are published by Harbour Publishing, a small independent publisher in British Columbia. They have been publishing the work of Vickers and Budd for many years. The pair has a new board book out this year called Hello Humpback.

When you are looking for diverse titles–especially by indigenous writers and artists–don’t forget the small presses.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Indigenous Authors: Roy Henry Vickers & Robert Budd

  1. katie rehnert

    youn viseted my school warrenton grade school. and you talked about a new book you where writing and you said to me yoyu did not have a name for itn the one about the wolf i told yoyu some names and you said to look at you website and leave a reply so i did and i think yoyur new book should be called one idea is “the wolf of wonder” or ” the wolf who wandered” ” the white wolf” “the mind of a wolf” “the story of the gray wolf ” the lone wolf” i hope youb will choose one of my ideas i thought hard on all of them and i really love reading your books and hope you keep going in writtin g and never stop

  2. Rosanne Parry Post author

    Hi Katie,
    Greetings from Ireland! I am here this week doing a little bit of book research and a lot of listening to traditional music. I had such a good time at your school in Warrenton. I especially loved the art you all put on the walls of the multi-purpose room. So beautiful.

    Just yesterday I was in London and met my new publisher for the first time. They are very excited about my wolf story and gave me a sneak peek at some of the art styles they were considering for illustration. It’s all very top secret at the moment but I just loved the art that I saw. I’m blown away by how many talented illustrators there are.

    Thank you for giving such careful thought to titles. I especially like The Lone Wolf and The Wolf who Wandered.
    Thanks for reading my books. I really love writing them and, as long as I have enthusiastic readers like you, I’m sure I’ll be able to keep publishing my stories for many many years to come!

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