Friday, August 06, 2010

TEN LITTLE INDIANS dolls/counting toy

Gabrielle, a colleague, messaged me this morning to say she'd seen a Ten Little Indians counting toy set at a shop in Cambodia. She'll see if someone can take photo of it for me. In the meantime, I searched Google images and found several. I don't advocate buying any of these sets, and I think the song or poem should not be taught to young children because it dehumanizes and stereotypes American Indians. That is a bad thing for Native children, but for non-Native children, too.

It is far better to count or sing objects that aren't human beings. You could count toys that are occupations (police, fire fighters, etc.) or animals, or, familiar objects. Below is some of what I found in the image search I did.

The "Indians" on one website are white. Completely white. As white as the Pillsbury Dough Boy. They're about 6 inches tall and their teepee is 20 or so inches high. They have a canoe and a fire. On another site, they're bright orange. On some they are brown. Precious Moments offers ten little "Indians" and a teepee, and, an entire family. Stereotypes abound, from names to clothing the dolls wear. Sadly, there's a lot of teacher resource sites that include worksheets using the poem.

The history of the rhyme/poem/song is important. See "Commentary: Ten Little N***** Girls" at the Essence website. Do read the commentary.

Also see:
A Teacher Reconsiders Ten Little Indians
Instead of Virginia Grossman's TEN LITTLE RABBITS, read Michael Kusugak's MY ARCTIC 1, 2, 3


geeksdoitbetter said...

i'm reminded of "eenie, meenie, minie, moe"

Sean E.StandingBear said...

Great information.

Thank You,

E.Sean StandingBear