Early on the morning of the day I hit the road (we left early afternoon), news stories in London focused on his inclusion of Sitting Bull. Some people there speculated that certain segments of American politics would object to Sitting Bull being someone who Obama would praise. I mentioned it in my Intro to American Indian Studies course, Brianna (a student) said that Fox News had already brought it up.
Last night I was finally online, catching up on the Obama/Sitting Bull discussion, reading email, etc. In my mail was one from Roger Sutton at Horn Book, noting that he wonders what I think of the book. Conservative political groups don't like it, and he wonders if Obama's book will draw the ire of progressives (me) as well. Roger wrote that:
Loren Long chose to depict Sitting Bull as a sort of landscape, with buffalo for eyes, hills and cracked earth for nose and mouth, and some pine trees placed so they form eyebrows (and, dare I say, boogers). It's the old one-with-nature stereotype, which wouldn't be so bad had all of the other subjects of the book not been depicted realistically.
I went online and found this image:
Roger said the other illustrations of people are realistic. I can't get to a bookstore to get a copy of the book, but I did find this video:
And, as I watched it, I see what Roger means. All the other people in the book are portrayed in a realistic fashion. They look great! In contrast, "Sitting Bull" is kind of scary looking. I can imagine a kid reading (or being read) the book. Turning the pages, seeing the realistic art, and then coming upon this one?! I imagine kids leaning in closer to the page in confusion... Long definitely bought into the one-with-nature stereotype... Visit Long's website and roll your cursor over the sketches. They'll change to the colorized pages in the book. I wish he'd done Sitting Bull in a realistic fashion. Looking at his site, I see the new edition of The Little Engine that Could---wherein there is an Indian doll... I wrote about it in July of 2008.
Once I get a copy of Of Thee I Sing, I'll be able to say something about the text for the Sitting Bull page.
For now, see the Native commentary at Indian Country Today in Rob Capriccioso's article, Fox News gets Sitting Bull history wrong.