Artist Makes History as First Native American to Win Caldecott Medal

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"We Are Water Protectors" written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade

Picture book illustrator Michaela Goade was named the 2021 Caldecott Medal winner on Monday, making her the first Indigenous person to receive the prestigious award.

“I am really honored and proud,” Goade, who is a member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “I think it’s really important for young people and aspiring bookmakers and other creative people to see this.”

Goade, who has won several other honors for her artistry, was recognized for her illustrations in the book “We Are Water Protectors,” a celebration of nature and condemnation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

The Caldecott Medal is named in honor of 19th-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children, the American Library Association (ALA) website states.

“Michaela Goade’s semi-translucent color palette beautifully bathes every page with powerful illustrations,” Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Annisha Jeffries wrote on the ALA website.