Illustrations by Steve Smith
Native American children's book is written in the Dakota language
and in the English language. Joanne was inspired to write
this book after the passing of her grandfather, Donald Zacharias.
He taught her many things about family, the outdoors, and
life in general. He was a hard working man who always enjoyed
telling stories about his past experiences to his grandchildren.
He taught her that everything is related in some way or another
here on this earth. He had great respect for all of the animals
because every animal has their own reason for being, just
like we do. The circle of life contains and represents so
many things that we are part of or come in contact with on
a daily basis. The memories that Joanne has of her grandfather
pour out on the pages of Taku Wadaka He? (What Do You See?)
for all to enjoy. When Joanne's grandfather passed away, there
was a rainbow from one end of the earth to the other. It was
the biggest and brightest rainbow that she had ever seen.
This is another memory that she has and it makes her smile
whenever she sees one because she knows that he is watching
over her and her family.
images in this book are hidden inside of the tipi because
sometimes we go through life not seeing the whole picture
right away. When we reflect back on a situation we are able
to see it more clearly or differently. Joanne wrote this book
to serve as an aid for all of the children and adults who
would like to learn the Dakota language, and as a creative
way to share her knowledge of the Dakota people and language
illustrations for Taku Wadaka were painted by Steven Anthony Smith.
The style of the paintings was inspired in a dream. Having been
told that when a jingle dress is made the maker prays each time
a jingle is sewn onto the dress, that way, when the dancer dances
prayers go up to the Creator at the sound of each jingle; Steve
sought to be in prayer as each brush stroke applied paint, that
way, with each set of eyes that looks upon the illustrations, our
prayers will go up to the Creator as well.
with acrylics on canvases ranging in size from 16 x 20" to
24 x 32", each illustration carries with it stories, inspirations
and blessings. "Offering," the painting of the grandfather
praying, includes cloud formations that resemble what Joanne, the
author, envisioned for this illustration. Not long after she shared
this vision with Steve, the cloud formations in the painting appeared
in the sky. The illustration, "Relatives," used as the
'find it' page, was sketched in a matter of minutes and became instrumental
to the book's layout and narrative turn at the end.
considers these inspirations and any talent demonstrated in his
work as gifts from the Creator. He is grateful to share them with
As a member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Joanne
Zacharias is grateful to the tribe for their support and guidance
over the past several years. Joanne obtained a Bachelors of
Science degree in Education from The College of St. Catherine in
2006. A certified Dakota language teacher, Joanne wrote this book
to serve as an aid for all of the children and adults who would
like to learn the Dakota language, and as a creative way to share
her knowledge of the Dakota people and language with others.
Steve Smith lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota. His lifelong study and
practice of visual art includes formal training through the University
of Minnesotas studio arts program as well as private study
and artist and teacher Bill Farmer. Previously, he has created illustrations
for community events and private collections. With Taku Wadaka He?,
Steves illustrations are published in a childrens book
for the first time.
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