Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Do you use Le Roy H. Appleton's American Indian Design & Decoration?

Update, 7:50 PM, September 25, 2018: Earlier today, Rosanne Parry submitted a comment to my review of her book, saying that the Makah and the Quinault nations have final say on the merits of her book. I contacted Janine Ledford, the Executive Director of the Makah Cultural and Research Center to ask if they sell Parry's book in the museum store. Ms. Ledford replied that they do not sell Parry's book in the museum. 


Sam Jonson submitted a comment to a AICL's 2014 post about Rosanne Parry's Written in Stone. Sam's comment includes a paragraph written by Claudia Zaslavsky in her book, Multicultural Mathematics: Interdisciplinary Cooperative-Learning Activities. More specifically, her comment is about a revision she made:
Multiple perspectives on customs, practices, and worldviewFirst I'll tell you about a mistake I made through ignorance. In my activities book Math Comes Alive (1987) I had a lesson on symmetry in the masks of several cultures. To show lack of symmetry, I included an asymmetrical "false face" mask of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), copied from the Dover publication American Indian Design and Decoration, by LeRoy Appleton. At the time I did not realize that this mask was considered sacred. Some time later I had occasion to correspond with the Board of Education at the Akwesasne Mohawk School District in northern New York and southern Ontario. (The Mohawks are one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.) To ascertain that this use of the mask was not offensive, I sent a copy of the lesson to the Board's office. The reply confirmed my worst fears. Fortunately my book was due to undergo a major revision, and this lesson on masks was withdrawn from the new edition, Multicultural Mathematics: Interdisciplinary Cooperative-Learning Activities (1993a).

When I read the comment, I thought it would be helpful to share it as a stand-alone blog post because it reflects a writer's growth in understanding and respecting Indigenous peoples, and it also references her source for the mask she subsequently removed from her book.

That source is LeRoy Appleton's American Indian Design and Decoration. Appleton's book came out in 1950. A new edition was published in 1971. In 2013 it was published in ebook format. I have not reviewed that book, but its initial publication date is 1950. The contents of the book reflect a way of thinking by a particular person, in 1950. I wonder if it has been revised? Do you have it in your library? Do the teachers in your school use it? I haven't read or reviewed Zaslavsky's book either. Is it in your school?

1 comment:

Ava Jarvis said...

Appleton's book is one of many books published by Dover that contain Native imagery for artists/designers to copy and use. They do it to other cultures as well: Japan, China, India, Mexico, Egypt, etc.

But yeah. There are a lot of these books. If you search on Amazon with the search terms "dover pictorial archive indian" you can find all of them. If you just search for "dover pictorial archive" you'll find a lot of stuff that is OK (primary architecture, animals, Victorian imagery), and a lot of stuff that is sketchy (i.e. religious iconography from cultures who have been victims of colonization).

I can't imagine any of them aren't anything other than massive amounts of problematic cultural appropriation with no proceeds going to any nations whatsoever.