Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Facts in WE ARE STILL HERE: NATIVE AMERICAN TRUTHS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW are characterized as being a "negative slant on white people"

Today (March 13, 2024) I read an article in The Gothamist that starts with this image:

What you're looking at is a stack of twelve copies of Sorell and Lessac's We Are Still Here: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know with a sticky note that says "Not Approved 3rd." 

Reading on, I see that someone determined that the book has a "negative slant on white people." The subtitle of the book is Native American Truths Everyone Should Know. Here's the cover. See those stickers on the right side of the cover? Those tell teachers that people who study children's books think We Are Still Here! is exceptional and that it should be used in classrooms.

Traci Sorell (the author) is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I'm tribally enrolled at Nambé Owingeh. Both are tribal nations. The "We" in the title is Native people. We are among the hundreds of tribal nations in the United States. This book affirms our existence because of the truths Sorell gives us in this book!

What is the "negative slant" in the book? Is it the content on page 4, where Sorell writes that "Our ways of life changed when white people arrived from Europe." Or where she writes that the federal government did not always keep its promises to tribes, and that federal laws and policies have been devastating? 

Is it page six, where Sorell wrote that some US leaders did not respect our ways and thought it would be better for us to adopt their beliefs and practices? 

Is it page eight, where she wrote that white people wanted to control and sell tribal lands?

Page after page, Sorell presents solid information in straightforward ways. What she wrote is true. A "slant" implies an unfair bias. There's nothing unfair or biased in the factual presentation of information. 

In fact, Sorell's book corrects negative depictions of Native people and omissions of our existence that you can easily find in children's books, textbooks, and educational materials. I hope your school has multiple copies, and that you'll ask for it at your local library. I hope you'll bring it into your home and read it with your children. 



1 comment:

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Echoing Dr. Reese's thoughtful endorsement of this powerful, accurate, age-appropriate, and important book. It should be shared in every home, library, and classroom.