Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First Nations writers Larry Loyie and Nicola Campbell

Pointing you, today, to an interview at papertigers.org. In the interview (conducted by Aline Pereira) Cree writer Larry Loyie talks about his life, his books, and his views on books about First Nations people. Back in July of 2006, I included his As Long as the Rivers Flow in a short list of books about boarding schools that I recommend.

Since then, I've read Nicola Campbell's Shi-Shi-Etko and also highly recommend it. Read a review of her book here.

If you've got Ann Rinaldi's My Heart is On the Ground, replace it with As Long as the Rivers Flow. And if you've got Eve Bunting's Cheyenne Again, replace it with Nicola Campbell's Shi-shi-etko. Rinaldi and Bunting are well-established writers, but both missed the mark in their books about boarding schools. Keeping their books means, in effect, continuing a long history of mis-educating readers about American Indian and First Nations history, culture, and life. You have the option of providing your students with better books. It sounds corny, but I'll say it anyway: Seize that opportunity!


Anonymous said...

Can't some of what you say be said of almost any book? Books about Vikings usually portray them as savage. I'm not defending Rinaldi but I would think we would add the books you suggest but not necessarily remove the others.

Saints and Spinners said...

Anonymous: From what I've read, I think that Vikings are portrayed more as violent than savage for the most part. We have the pantheon of Norse gods and all their stories, and many of the days of the week are named after those gods (Wednesday is "Odin's day," Thursday is "Thor's day," etc.). We also have some distance with the Vikings. The events depicted in Rinaldi's book happened relatively recently (1880), and are drawn from events that were historically documented but then skewed, slanted and rearranged for the author's vision of the story. I don't think Rinaldi wrote what she did with malicious intent, but when you read through Oyate's analyses of My Heart is On the Ground point by point, it becomes clear that the book should not have made it to print as it stood: http://www.oyate.org/books-to-avoid/myHeart.html

I wish Ann Rinaldi would take Debbie Reese's advice and rewrite the book, but I also understand Rinaldi's response that she would never again write a story about American Indians.