In this Own Voices Native American picture book, a modern Wabanaki girl is excited to accompany her grandmother for the first time to harvest sweetgrass for basket making. She must overcome her impatience while learning to distinguish sweetgrass from other salt marsh grasses, but slowly the spirit and peace of her surroundings speak to her, and she gathers sweetgrass as her ancestors have done for centuries, leaving the first blade she sees to grow for future generations. This sweet, authentic story from a Maliseet mother and her Passamaquoddy husband includes backmatter about traditional basket making and a Wabanaki glossary.
Suzanne Greenlaw (Orono, ME) is Maliseet and a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. A PhD candidate in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, she works to restore Wabanaki stewardship practices across various land tenure systems throughout Maine.
Gabriel Frey (Orono, ME) is Passamaquoddy and a citizen of Passamaquoddy at Sipayik. He is an awarded-winning basket maker, artist, and cultural knowledge keeper. His mother and Suzanne and Gabriel’s two daughters, Musqon and Alamossit, helped inspire The First Blade of Sweetgrass.
Nancy Baker (Thomaston, ME) is a Maine artist, illustrator, and muralist whose landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works in oils and pastels are represented by Mars Hall Gallery in Tenants Harbor, Maine. While visiting the sweetgrass meadows of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park with Suzanne and Gabriel, authors of The First Blade of Sweetgrass, Nancy learned the ecology and cultural importance of sweetgrass and witnessed the majesty of the landscape in which it grows, qualities that she has worked to convey in her illustrations.