Kirsten and the Chippewa

Written by Valerie Tripp, illustrations by Renee Graef and Kim Lewis


Kirsten and her siblings and cousins are busy with chores when some Native Americans show up. They come inside and Aunt Inger, who knows the man in charge as Five Swans, makes a deal with them: her fresh-baked pies for their gamebirds. The children are nervous (the men aren't from Singing Bird's tribe). One of the younger men mocks how Kirsten washes the dishes and calls her a raccoon. Embarrassed, she shoots back that he's an ugly muskrat. She instantly regrets it, but it's too late to take it back.

The next day, Kirsten and Caro the dog go to fetch water. Caro ends up falling through the ice into the cold water, clinging desperately to the ice with only his front paws. Before Kirsten can come up with a plan, the same men arrive on the scene. The one who had poked fun at Kirsten removes his moccasins without hesitation and wades into the water and ice and grabs Caro, saving him. Kirsten is overcome with gratitude, and tells him to come back the house to warm up. He declines, showing her how warm his fur-lined clothes are. He calls her Raccoon again, but this time Kirsten doesn't mind; it seems affectionate instead of mocking. A short time later, she decides on an affectionate nickname for him (Three Hawks on One Branch, referring to the three ways she sees him: an eager boy, a brave warrior, and a generous, kind man) and looks forward to seeing him again so she can tell him.

Looking Back

This time the section is about the Ojibwa. Like the Sioux, they were nomadic, hunting, gathering, and planting as the seasons and terrain allowed. Today (or at least when this was written sometimes in the mid-1990s) they mostly live on reservations.


There's a sort of disclaimer at the beginning of the book that Chippewa is a misinterpretation of Ojibwa. The book goes with Chippewa because that's the name Kirsten would have known as correct.

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