Caution should be used when selecting books including Native
Americans, due to the lasting images that books and pictures
provide to children. This paper will examine the portrayal of
Native Americans in children's literature. I will discuss
specific stereotypes that are present and should be avoided, as
well as positive examples. I will also highlight evaluative
criteria that will be useful in selecting appropriate materials
for children and provide examples of good and bad books.
Children will read many books as they grow up. They take
from these books visual images and these images are their
perceptions, which can last a lifetime. There are too many books
featuring painted, whooping Indians wearing feathers and
attacking forts, or maliciously scalping peaceful settlers.
There are also too many books in which white benevolence is the
only thing that saves the day for the incompetent childlike
Indian. Teachers, librarians, parents, baby-sitters, relatives,
and anyone else who buys a child a book must be aware of the
perceptions each book will provide a child. In her book Through
Indian Eyes: The Native Experience for Children, Doris Seale
states, "It is no longer acceptable for children both Native and
non-Native to be hurt racist ideologies which justify and
There are many books in children's libraries today that
perpetuate the stereotypical Native American. By definition, a
stereotype is a "fixed image, idea, trait, or convention, lacking
originality or individuality, most often negative, which robs
individuals and their cultures of human qualities and promotes no
real understanding of social rea...
... middle of paper ...
...ay as to be needlessly offensive, insensitive, or inappropriate?
10. Does the material contain much of value but require additional
information to make it more relevant or useful?
(Library Services Institute for Minnesota Indians, 1970, pp. iv-v)
Berkhoffer, Robert F. 'The White Man's Indian. Alfred A. Knopf
Publishers, New York: 1978.
Dowd, Frances Smardo. "Evaluating Children's Portraying Native
American and Asian Cultures". Childhood Education; (68
Summer 92), pp. 219-224.
Library Services Institutefor Minnesota Indians. Guidelines for
Evaluating Multicultural Literature: 1970, pp. iv-v.
Norton, Donna. 'Through the Eyes of a Child. Prentice Hall
Inc., Englewood Cliffes, New Jersey: 1995.
Seale, Doris. Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in
Books for Children. New Society Publisher, Philadelphia, PA:
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