Thursday, September 09, 2010


Yesterday when I opened Facebook, I had a handful of messages from friends who said "Did you see this?" The "this" is way cool... 

Last year, four university presses formed an initiative called First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies. The four are the University of Arizona Press, the University of Minnesota Press, the University of North Carolina Press, and Oregon State University Press. Their goal?
"Our initiative seeks to publish books that exemplify contemporary scholarship and research in Indigenous studies. We support with scholarship with unprecedented attention to the growing dialogue among Native and non-Native scholars, communities, and publishers."
In addition to books in Indigenous Studies, First Peoples publishes a blog. On September 8, 2010, Natasha Varner posted "Five Native Bloggers and Podcasters to Bookmark and Follow." Natasha wrote:
Over the past year, we've become increasingly aware of an impressive community of indigenous scholars and cultural critics producing blogs and podcasts that provide intelligent insight and critique of contemporary issues and popular culture. Here are five that we think you should follow.
American Indians in Children's Literature is one of those five! Can you tell I'm thrilled at being included? Here's a screen shot of the page.

Click on over to Five Native Bloggers and then click on the links provided. There's a lot to learn, whether you're an author, illustrator, editor, reviewer, or a parent, teacher, librarian or professor who works with children, young adults, or the books published with them in mind.

Note that I didn't say "books about" American Indians or indigenous peoples... I chose my words carefully. Images of indigenous peoples appear more often in books that have nothing to do with us than they do in books that are supposed to be about us! And most of the time, those images are, well, kind of messed up. Most of America doesn't see them as messed up because they're so prevalent, and most of us have been 'schooled' so well in that imagery that we don't know it is wrong!

All that imagery we're all surrounded by? To develop your eye for spotting it, read and follow Native Appropriations. I've been reading it for awhile. It, too, is one of the five blogs First Peoples listed. Over at Native Appropriations, Adrienne is doing a terrific job pointing to pop culture images and language.  Both, American Indians in Children's Literature and Native Appropriations use Twitter. To follow us there...

Debbie Reese on Twitter
Native Appropriations on Twitter

Monday, September 06, 2010

Margaret Manuel's I SEE ME

There's a handful of terrific board books that I recommend, and I'm adding this one to that list...

I See Me by Margaret Manuel is one of those books that can be personalized by its owner.

For example, the text on the first page is "I see me AWAKE."  Beneath that sentence is a blank line for me to write the Tewa word for awake. What language will you use on your copy?

The child shown on the cover is on each page. Some pages are about the things all babies do (smile, cry) and some are things specific to Native cultures. The cover page, for example, shows the baby with a drum. See the drumstick? (Note to authors and illustrations...  Native peoples in the US and Canada use drumsticks rather than hands to drum.)

Published by Theytus Books, I See Me was an Honourable Mention at the New York Book Festival in 2010.  Available from Theytus is a downloadable file of the Okanagan words for the ones in the book, and Theytus plans to add words from other First Nations languages, too.

If you want to know more about the Okanagan people, visit their website. When you click on the website for the Okanagan Nation Alliance, pause a moment and listen to the "The Okanagan Song" by Trish and Bruce Manuel before clicking through to the rest of the site.

Located in Canada, Theytus was established in 1980. It was the first publishing house in Canada owned and operated by Indigenous people.