Tag Archives: West

Romantic or racist? Perceptions shift on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

13 Jul

In Minnesota, Waziyatawin’s daughter came home from school one afternoon shaken and deeply disturbed by that day’s read-along.

The book? “Little House on the Prairie.” Her mom says the then-8-year-old was upset by hearing her teacher deliver the novel’s phrase, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” When Dr. Waziyatawin, a Dakota historian with a doctorate in American history from Cornell University, petitioned the Yellow Medicine East District in 1998 to stop teaching the book in third grade, her request was rejected.

In Kansas, Laura McLemore, who was named after the Little House series’ author Laura Ingalls Wilder, dedicates herself to preserving the legacy of the author, dressing up as the fictionalized Laura character to make the pioneer-era books come alive for school kids.

In Boston, when James Noonan, a research affiliate at Harvard Graduate School of Education, read the book to his 3-year-old daughter last year, he says he struggled to find a “middle path,” pointing out racism and talking about the perspectives of the Native characters not included in the series. “I’m not trying to censor it. I’m trying to ask important questions about it and not let Ma’s perspective speak for itself,” says Dr. Noonan.

These divergent responses reflect a still-unsettled struggle over how society should deal with books – especially ones long revered as classics – that contain racism. The “Little House on the Prairie” ​series, ​which follows the fictionalized Ingalls family as they settle in Kansas, ​has for decades been a third-grade reading staple, translated into more than 40 languages a​s well as adapted ​for TV.

So begins Rebecca Asoulin’s report on differing ways of dealing with how Native Americans are regarded in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic books. You may read the entire story at the Christian Science Monitor here.


A History of Cannabis in the American West: An Interview

4 Apr

Nick Johnson has written Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West, published by Oregon State University Press. At Blog West, Johnson offers a concise summary of his book in an interview here.

Shootout at the OK Corral – Oct 26, 1881

26 Oct

The Tombstone Epitaph, founded by J.P. Clum, covered the OK Corral shootout.

Shootout at the OK Corral on Oct 26, 1881. Wyatt Earp and his brothers were Dutch Americans and, at one time, residents of Pella, Iowa. Another Dutch American was John P. Clum, who in 1881 was the Mayor of Tombstone. While the Earps were not religiously affiliated, Clum was. He was raised in his native New York in the Reformed Church in America. Once in the West, since he could find no Reformed congregations, he became Presbyterian. He and Wyatt Earp kept in touch afterward even as they went their separate ways.

Learn more about what happened at the OK Corral here: Shootout at the OK Corral – Oct 26, 1881 – HISTORY.com.

Learn more about John P. Clum in my article on him, of which you can find a pdf here.

Tribes Defy Storm & Bureaucracy to Deliver Name Change Declaration to Yellowstone

19 Sep

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – “I stand in strong solidarity with you and my indigenous brothers and sisters in your demands to change the names in Yellowstone from war criminals to humane and freedom-loving people!” Dr. Cornel West informed Chief Stan Grier, a message sent for tribal leaders on the eve of their unity protest in Yellowstone. That Harvard professor Dr. West, once described by President Obama as “a genius, a public intellectual, a preacher, an oracle” and “the most exciting black American scholar ever” by critics, has publicly supported Tribal Nations’ efforts to change the names of proponents and exponents of indigenous genocide in Yellowstone, suggests the traction and profile the issue is gaining.

Read the rest of the story here at Native News Online: Backed by Civil Rights “Genius” Dr. Cornel West, Tribes Defy Storm, Bureaucracy & Deliver Name Change Declaration to Yellowstone – Native News Online

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Why do white writers keep making films about Indian Country?

16 Sep

Try as they might, two new films–Neither Wolf nor Dog and Wind River–can’t escape old tropes. So argues Jason Asenap in a review at High Country News here: Why do white writers keep making films about Indian Country? — High Country News

How Old West Theme Parks Misrepresent Our Collective Cultural History

13 Sep

At the Pacific Standard, Amanda Tewes astutely examines the Ghost Town, California version of the “Old West.” As the nation debates monuments and public memory, it’s important to understand how other cultural sites help people learn (false) history. Read her piece here: How Old West Theme Parks Misrepresent Our Collective Cultural History – Pacific Standard

This Replica of a Tlingit Killer Whale Hat Is Spurring Dialogue About Digitization

11 Sep

Collaboration between museums and indigenous groups provides educational opportunities, archival documentation—and ethical dilemmas. Read Meilan Solly’s report here at the Smithsonian: This Replica of a Tlingit Killer Whale Hat Is Spurring Dialogue About Digitization | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian

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