I imagine that most of you recognize the illustration above. It appears in Danny and the Dinosaur, an I Can Read book published in 1958:
Do you remember the illustration at top? Like many of you, I read Danny and the Dinosaur as a child. I don't recall if I paused at that illustration. Likely, I passed it over then, but as a person who studies images of Indians in children's literature, I notice it now and view it critically.
Watch the video embedded below. At the 3:35 mark, Frank Ettawageshik of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, talks about the placement of American Indians in museums, and what those placements teach children.
I invite you to consider removing it. Removing it?! Is that censorship? It might be, but, what if the book contains something that is inaccurate?
Look at the illustration. The words say "He saw Indians." But he didn't! He saw a shirtless man with a big nose wearing a headdress. What tribe might that man belong to? We don't know, and, the naked torso/feathered headdress/hooked nose constitute a stereotype.
Course, this IS an easy-reader, so we might think that for Syd Hoff to be tribally specific (name the tribe), it would overwhelm the child. Let's say Hoff said it was a Plains Indian. They wear headdresses like that, but what about the bare torso and the hooked nose? What if Hoff put accurate clothing on the man and did not draw the nose that way? His Indian would still be in a natural history museum, which makes it problematic in a different way...
The book's publication date is 1958. As such, it predates the development of what we now call multicultural literature. Would the book be published today? (Note on July 18, 20140, the answer is yes. Based on what I'm seeing in 2014, it would!) It is, of course, reprinted again and again. You can get it in hardcover, paperback, or in audiobook format.
Hoff sent his manuscript for his first children's book to Ursula
You could just say "He saw Indians. He saw bears. He saw..."That suggestion is followed by this:
On Page 9: "He saw horses and wagons. He saw mummies. He saw cavemen. And he saw...(OK? Roman chariot and Egyptian mummies look too hard for a child who has just learned to read and is excited about reading.)I find it fascinating to think about what Hoff may have written, and it would be terrific to see his original manuscript!
I hear something much like
Watch the video above, read Fryberg's article, and then, consider whether or not you'll leave Danny and the Dinosaur on your shelf.