A Native Blogger in Pursuit of Social Justice

0 Flares Filament.io 0 Flares ×

my research in academic and professional
journals that will lead to tenure, but
as a Native parent and former schoolteacher,
I know that those journals are not
readily available to people who work with
children on a daily basis. An Internet blog
was the answer. In May of 2006, I launched
American Indians in Children’s Literature.
With my blog, I reach parents, teachers,
librarians and others who do not have access
to professional and academic journals. I provide
immediate information about American
Indians—whether that information is a
review of a children’s book, or a new source
for teachers, or, an announcement about
something like Artrain.
Artrain is precisely what its name suggests—
a train filled with art. The works
exhibited in the Artrain that stopped in Monticello
last month were contemporary art by
American Indians. NativeViews: Influences of
Modern Culture, has been touring the country—
on railroad tracks–since 2004.
The exhibit especially intrigued me
because it includes the work of Judith
Lowry, who illustrated the outstanding
children’s picture book, Home to Medicine
Mountain, about her father and uncle. They
are of the Mountain Maidu and Hamawi
Pit-River tribes in northern California. As
boys, they were among the thousands of
Native children taken to boarding schools
developed in the late 1880s to “kill the
Indian, save the man.”
Missing home, the boys ran away from the
school, getting home by riding atop a boxcar.
These schools had a devastating effect
on Native communities across the United
States, but it is among the too-many topics
not taught in our classrooms.
On my blog, I write about books like Home
to Medicine Mountain and others by Native
authors who make an effort to tell stories
that provide children with accurate information
about American Indians. I link to
websites maintained by Native writers and
illustrators like Sherman Alexie, Cynthia
Leitich Smith, and George Littlechild.
Research shows, however, that it is not
enough to provide children with better
information. Teachers must also actively
work towards helping children develop an
ability to identify racist, biased, and outdated
information, in this case, about
American Indians. These depictions—
whether they appear in children’s books,
television programs, movies, as school
mascots, or in products at the grocery
store—far outnumber the factual and realistic
portrayals of American Indians. For
decades, Native scholars have addressed
these problematic images. Many have written
about the racist, biased, and erroneous
presentation of American Indians in Forrest
Carter’s The Education of Little Tree and
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the
Prairie. By reading my blog, teachers find
these critiques.
The content of the website is designed to
help people develop a critical stance when
evaluating American Indians in children’s
books. This means recognizing negative and
positive stereotypes, both of which stand in
the way of seeing and accepting American
Indians as people of the present day. I am
confident that more and more people are
learning how to look critically, let go of
problematic books, and instead, select
books that present Native Americans as we
are—not savages, and not heroes—but people
with good and bad qualities.
My blog is listed on websites of the leading
teacher and librarian organizations and
associations, social justice organizations,
and, sites maintained by American Indian
tribes and organizations. I invite you to visit
my blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature
literature.blogspot.com). Take time to read
and think about the content. With good
faith and hard work, we can all effect
change in the way that today’s society views
American Indians.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.