Monday, June 05, 2017

Doris Seale, 1936-2017

Back in the early 1990s when I started graduate school, I learned of the work of a Santee, Cree, Abenaki woman named Doris Seale. I read her writings about the ways that Native people are depicted in children's books. Those words were fierce. I learned a lot from her. She also wrote two books of poetry: Blood Salt, and Ghost Dance. 

In 2001, she won the American Library Association's Equality Award for the work she'd been doing, for over 40 years. That year, ALA's meeting was held at a Marriott Hotel in San Francisco that was in a labor dispute with its workers. Rather than cross a picket line to accept her award, Doris Seale joined that picket line.


Doris started her work as a librarian a year before I was born, in the children's department of the Brookline Public Library, in Brookline Massachusetts. She passed away this year. That marks 60 years, or so, of her words, doing work, for children.

She founded Oyate, too.

In her honor, I'm going to start compiling a bibliography of her writings. It will be on this page. At this point in time, people in the fields of education and library science point to me as an important voice in understanding the ways that Native peoples are depicted in children's books. I learned a lot of what I know from Doris Seale. I invite you to read her work. Cite it, and share it. And let me know of ones I've missed, too.


Doris Seale's Writings about Native Peoples in Children's Literature

Seale, D. (1981). Bibliographies about Native Americans—A mixed blessing. Interracial Books for Children Bulletin12, 11-15.

Seale, D. (1984). Indians without Hope, Indians without Options--The Problematic Theme of Hatter FoxInterracial Books for Children Bulletin15(3), 7.

Slapin, B., & Seale, D. (1988). Books without bias: Through Indian eyes. Oyate.

Seale, D. (1991) 1492-1992 from an American Indian Perspective. In Lindgren, M. V. The Multicolored Mirror: Cultural Substance in Literature for Children and Young Adults. Highsmith Press, W5527 Highway 106, PO Box 800, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800..

Seale, D. (1992). Let us put our minds together and see what life we will make for our children. Slapin and Seale, Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in Books for Children, 7-12.

Slapin, B., & Seale, D. (1992). Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in Books for Children. New Society Publishers, 4527 Springfield Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19143.

Slapin, B., Seale, D., & Gonzales, R. (1996). How to tell the difference: A guide to evaluating children's books for anti-Indian bias. Berkeley, Calif.: Oyate.

Seale, D. (2001). Parting Words: The Works of Paul Goble. Multicultural Review10(1), 120-120.

Slapin, B., & Seale, D. (2001). Presenting the Wounded Knee Massacre in Books for Children: A Review Essay on Neil Waldman's Wounded KneeMultiCultural Review10(4), 54-56.

Seale, D., & Slapin, B. (2006). A broken flute: The Native experience in books for children. Rowman Altamira.

Seale, D. (2007). Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa. Review at American Indians in Children's Literature

Dow, J., & Seale, D. (2009). Tomie de Paola's The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Review at American Indians in Children's Literature _________

Doris Seale: In Memorium at Dawnland Voices
Doris Marion Seale (obituary at The Boston Globe)


Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks for letting us know of Doris's passing and for this tribute and bibliography. Doris was such an important voice for those of us who love, study, critique, and share literature for young people. I learned so much from her and cite her often in my teaching. Her work continues!

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thank you, Debbie. Doris's voice and contributions were formidable and appreciated.

Ruth E. Quiroa said...

Debbie, Thank you for this post. What a giant in the field. We owe so much to her diligence and passion.

Beverly Slapin said...

For many years, Doris and I were colleagues, co-conspirators, sisters and dear friends. Together, often with Doris in the lead, we pounded out the work that needed to be done; and sometimes, after a particularly difficult review or essay had been completed, I’d ask in wonder, “Did we really write that?” Invariably, she’d respond, “No, it wrote us.”

Doris was passionate and fierce. She never shied away from controversy and never took “no” for an answer. Her heart was always with the Indian community’s children; her work and her prayers focused on keeping them healthy and whole.

Go well, Doris.

Sandra said...

Thank you Debbie. May Doris rest in power and May her spirit dance forever

?eh?eh naa tuu kwiss said...

Thank you so much Debbie for bringing Doris' story forward for the world to see. Participating with the work of the Broken Flute and the Oyate of that era was important for me as I began to emerge from being a graduate student to an academic. The lens of children's literature is so critical in the process of identity development and cultural consolidation for Indigenous children all over the world. This summer a young Brazilian graduate student will come up to use my office to add to her way of thinking about children's literature from a pedagogical standpoint. She and her advisor were impressed with the Broken Flute and Debbie's work on the blog. Before appropriation was a big issue in mainstream Indigenous literature, Doris the librarian, was there in protest to provide a model for us to follow. RIP Doris Seale...may your grandchildren and greatgrandchildren and great great grandchildren be like stars in the sky, critically aware of the disceptions of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation in children's literature.

Junko Yokota said...

From the earliest days of thinking about multicultural literature, Doris led the way. I am enormously indebted to her speaking out, as was and is needed. Her legacy will live on. Rest in peace, Doris. and thank you.