A children’s book that brings to life the Seven Teachings of Grandfather – Bemidji Pioneer

Red Lake – Grandfather’s Seven Teachings of Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth are deeply rooted in Anishinaabe culture.

A newly published children’s book by Red Lake author Elizabeth Barrett and illustrator Jonathan Thunder brings these teachings to the colorful lives of young and old.

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The book was illustrated by Red Lake band member Jonathan Thunder, an artist based in Duluth.

Contributed / Press of the Minnesota Historical Society

“The Skeptic’s Way,” published by Historic Minnesota Publishing, was the brainchild of Thomas Barrett, CEO of the Red Lake Boys and Girls Club. He reached out to his niece Elizabeth and artist Thunder with this idea. The result was a fun 30-page book, the proceeds of which will benefit the Boys and Girls Club for years to come.

“I’m really proud of the book,” Thomas said. “It’s a really great way to show the world a part of Ojibwe culture. Being from Red Lake, I feel extra proud to have brought together two members of Red Lake to create the book. I’m really big on the Seven Teachings, incorporating that into any kind of teaching, programming or presentations.” “.

In the story, three young cousins ​​explore the forest in search of medicines that heal and purify, while collecting advice from wise beings that provide life lessons cherished by generations.

“I’m running out of medicine,” their grandmother Mindy says. So the cousins ​​- Lily, Ojima and Ellie – are ready to help. Together they will travel to Mashkiki Road, the road on which medicines grow, in search of sage and rice for grandmother.

On their journey, they receive teachings from the eagle (love), the buffalo (respect), the bear (courage), the sabi or sasquatch (honesty), the beaver (wisdom), the wolf (humility), and the tortoise (truth).

All scenes are beautifully illustrated by Thunder, who was born in Red Lake, grew up in the Twin Cities and now lives in Duluth.

“I’ve done some research because I’ve been working on a pair of murals in recent years where the theme has been the Seven Teachings,” Thunder said. “I’ve been able to handle concepts and create visual content from that. I try to live according to those general teachings, even before this project. It makes sense for most people. The world could use more of that.”

This is the first book for

Elizabeth Barrett, Dartmouth College Alumna 2021

She majored in English and majored in Women’s, Gender, and Gender Studies with a focus on creative writing.

While she hopes to write more books, she was recently hired as a curriculum writer for the prevention program at Red Lake Chemical Health.

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Writer Elizabeth Barrett reads a portion of “Mashkeki’s Way” at the recent book signing.


Elizabeth, 22, has enjoyed recent book-signing events and is proud to be part of the Sketchy Road project.

“It’s really cool,” she said. “It was very exciting to see the book in the hands of young people, just to know that they like it and make a little use of it.”

Readers will get a glimpse into the scenes of Red Lake when they flip through the book. That was intended for Thunder, 45, who attended the Institute of American Indian Art in New Mexico and the Institutes of International Art in Minnesota.

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Artist Jonathan Thunder incorporated some scenes of the Red Lake District when he painted “Mishkeki Road.”


“When I started creating the work (on the ‘Mishkeki Road’), I wanted to incorporate some of the landscapes you might see around Red Lake, like the Red Lake water tower, and draw inspiration from areas within the town of Red Lake,” Thunder said. “So when people look at it, if they are familiar with the area, it will be interesting for them to find the little Easter eggs.”

“My Skeptic’s Way”

Available on Amazon

or through the Minnesota Historical Society Press website at


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