Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Classic, Award-Winning, Popular Books with Racist, Biased Depictions of Indigenous People

In my experience, a lot of people don't remember or realize that classic, award-winning, or popular books have Native content in them that is biased, stereotypical, or just flat out incorrect. I and others have written about several of those books. That writing is here on AICL but in research and professional articles and book chapters, too.

This post is a list of links to some of that writing. If you're a teacher or professor interested in using a children's or young adult book to teach critical literacy, these will work well for that sort of analysis.

Arrow to the Sun

Caddie Woodlawn 

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Little House on the Prairie

Sign of the Beaver

Touching Spirit Bear


What we need are books by Native writers! Check out AICL's Best Books lists.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you read Calico Captive? We read that in 5th grade and I liked it, but I'm pretty sure there's problematic content.

E. Ternes said...

I just checked and am relieved to see our collection is already free of almost all of these (Except the Wilder books...sigh. I flip myself back and forth on those every time weeding comes around). I'm wondering about Gerald McDermott, though. We don't have Arrow but we do have Coyote and Raven. I had been slightly more comfortable with those because he at least sort of signals with his attributions ("from the Pacific Northwest" and "from the American Southwest") that this isn't going to be an accurate representation of any particular people--and that squares with Joseph Campbell's ideas about certain archtypal stories like the "trickster" appearing across cultures. I'm kind of drawn to his illustration style, but re-reading your older review of Arrow and the comments about his abhorrent behavior, it sounds like it's probably best to just be done with him altogether.