Study of First Nations Nonfictional Materials
Sarah Jo Zaharako
November 28, 2016
San Jose State University INFO 264-10 Professor Penny Peck
Assignment 4: Informational Nonfiction Books
History of North America - Native Peoples
This project explores materials available for collection development under the subject heading History of North America – Native Peoples. Although most materials are categorized within the Dewey Decimal number 970, I have included relevant materials from the 300s (social sciences), the 500s (science), and the 920s (biography). Materials that address the subject from various perspectives are necessary for developing a comprehensive understanding of American Indian history and its effect on present day life.
Kathleen Horning (2010) writes that, up until the 1980’s, the trend toward fictionalized nonfiction was generally accepted. Nowhere is this acceptance more prevalent than in materials referencing American Indians. Overall, readers have come to expect higher standards in nonfiction literature for children. We look for documentation of sources, an author with authority on the subject, and an unbiased, factual delivery of information. Unfortunately, in the genre of American Indian literature, the trend toward fictionalization and bias continues. Debbie Reese states, “old stereotypical and biased books get reprinted again and again, and new ones join them each year” (2014, www.americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com). She further states, “there are a LOT of materials available on American Indians, but, many (I'd say most) are outdated and/or biased in ways that continue to present American Indians as victims, savages, or tragic heroes” (2007, www. americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com). Indeed, a search for books on American Indians at the local library yielded an alarming number of decades old material, mostly written from the perspective of the white settler. For example, many books have titles such as Native Americans of Northern California (Kallen, 2003) or The Miwok of California (Williams, J.). Such titles suggest that California contributes to the identity of its native people when, in fact, California state-hood is but one event in the history of a nation that began long before European and Mexican settlement.
I chose this subject as an opportunity to follow up on a lecture I attended by Debbie Reese at the 2016 Institute of the Association of Children’s Librarians (ACL). She talked about the lack of literature in which native peoples are portrayed honestly and in which history is told from a Native American perspective. My findings confirmed Reese’s assessment and illuminated a need for careful evaluation of nonfiction materials in this subject area.
The selection of materials was based on criteria from four sources. First, the guidelines for this assignment mandated that items must be in print.
Then, because quality nonfiction for children should provide students with materials they need to meet educational standards (Horning, 2010), I considered the guidelines outlined in the California Department of Education’s history-social science framework for fourth through eighth grade (2016). The guidelines mandate that middle graders study state and national history with a special focus on the events and people that shaped the country. The framework, which incorporates the California Content Standards, Common Core State Standards, and English Language Development Standards, states,
In addition to providing history–social science content, teachers must emphasize disciplinary and literacy practices – investigation, close reading, analysis of evidence, and argumentative writing (2016, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/sbedrafthssfw.asp).
In order to achieve these standards, students require access to nonfiction material that is well structured, accurate, and comprehensible.
Furthermore, I considered review criteria outlined by specialists in American Indian education and literature. Debbie Reese provides four simple questions on her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature (n.d.):
- Is the book by a Native author or illustrator?
- Does the book, in some way, include something to tell readers that we are sovereign nations?
- Is the book tribally specific, and is the tribally specific information accurate?
- Is it set in the present day? If it is historical in structure, does it use present tense verbs that tell readers the Native peoples being depicted are part of today's society?
Finally, I considered Kathleen T. Horning’s description of quality nonfiction for children. She mandates that an author presents his or her authority on the subject matter, uses inclusive language and illustrations, and presents material in a logical sequence. Furthermore, illustrations should relate to and enhance the text and that the design of the book clarifies the sequence of information (Horning, 2010).
Many titles in this list are authored and illustrated by Native Americans, but I also included materials written by specialists in the field of Native American studies. For example, non-native scholars and historians who specialize in specific nations author several books included in the classroom series. In some cases, these scholars are also tribal members.
Several sources provided information pertaining to the selected titles. For reviews and recommendations, I consulted four organizations dedicated to Native American literature. Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature provided reviews, recommendations, and links to state curriculum documents. Likewise, the American Indian Library Association was a good source for book reviews as well as recommendations from their American Indian Youth Literature Awards list. The website Native Languages of the Americas also provided excellent book, film, and website recommendations and sponsored a webpage for kids, which I reviewed as a selection for the project. Finally, the organization Oyate provided reviews, recommended reading, and bibliographic information. Oyate maintains an extensive, carefully curated catalog of books and media for sale, which portray native people in an authentic, honest way. Visitors can browse by subject, culture, or audience (reading level).
Titlewave supplied bibliographical information. Although the reviews they list were helpful in describing the aesthetics of books, I did not rely on these reviews for content because their authors did not follow the criteria for this project. In order to determine whether items were still in print, I referred to Titlewave, Oyate, or went directly to the publishers’ websites.
I obtained books for consideration from the Oakland Public Library system and the Berkeley Public Library system. Fortunately, I was able to personally review all materials.
Bruchac, Joseph. The Long Way Home: The Tragic Story of a Proud People’s March from their Homeland. Illustrated by Shonto Begay. National Geographic Society, 2002. 47 pages. Tr. $19.00, ISBN: 978-0-7922-7058-4
Grades 3 – 7
Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) tells the horrific history of the 1864 destruction of the Dinetah, the Navajo homeland, by Kit Carson’s army and the relocation of its people to the desolate Bosque Rolando reservation. The Navajo Long Walk, as it came to be called, is one of the most tragic but least known injustices in American history. In many ways, the Navajo nation would never recover. Still, the story ends with triumph and determination, as survivors eventually returned to Dinetah and grew to be the largest sovereign nation in the present day United States.
Diné (Navajo) illustrator Shonto Begay’s acrylic on clay board paintings and accompanying captions bring the story to life. Thick, deliberate brush strokes, reminiscent of Van Gough, and monochromatic color schemes emphasize the darkness of the times. Full-page paintings are complimented by small monochromatic watercolors throughout the book.
Large text and plentiful illustrations invite younger readers. Maps aid understanding of the content. Short direct sentences and brief chapters convey detailed information in an organized and comprehensive manner. Diné terminology features prominently in the telling of the story. Notes by the author and illustrator precede the story and provide a personal context for the material. An afterword connects the subject with modern day Diné people.
Bruchac credits Navajo storytellers, historians, and elders for the information in the text. The book comes highly recommended by Oyate, which implements strict criteria for historical accuracy. This is the type of material needed to replace the vast quantity of fictionalized histories that dominate Native American nonfiction.
Grace, Catherine O’Neil. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Illustrated by Sisse Brimberg. National Geographic Society, 2001. 47 pages. Tr. $15.31, ISBN: 978-0-7922-7027-0
Grades 3 - 7
This large-format photo essay dispels the widely accepted myths associated with the first Thanksgiving. The book is a collaboration between the Wampanoag Indian Program at Plymoth Plantation, a living history museum of 17th-century Plymouth, Margaret M. Bruchac, an Abenaki storyteller and adviser for Plymoth Plantation, children’s author Catherine O’Neill Grace, and National Geographic photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. In 2000, the museum staged a reenactment of the events of 1621 based on extensive research. Local Wampanoag people portrayed their ancestors in the beautiful full-page color photos. The pictures are supported with a comprehensive but accessible text, which intersperses the account of the feast with information about Wampanoag language and customs, the history and way of life of the English colonists, letters and journal entries from the colony leaders, and recipes for Wampanoag and English period dishes. The text also explains how the facts evolved into myth and led to the holiday we celebrate today. Back matter includes a description of the 2000 reenactment, a chronology, index, bibliography, and acknowledgements.
I first heard about the book on the Oyate website (2006) and was thrilled to find it is still in print. I have included the book in this list because it directly confronts the prevailing assumptions our country accepts as the origins of one of our most popular holidays.
Landon, Rocky. A native American Thought of It: Amazing Inventions and Innovations. Edited by David MacDonald. Annick Press, 2008. 48 pages. Tr. $19.95, ISBN: 978-1-55451-155-6
Grades 3 – 8
This full color book illuminates contributions and inventions made by Native Americans, which have become staples in modern day society. Eight sections detail areas of innovation such as shelter, food, clothing, medicine, transportation, communication, warfare, and games. The book culminates with a section titled “Native Americans Today”, which provides a general overview of modern Native American society and the contributions Native Peoples provide in a vast array of areas including sports, politics, and science. Multiple black and white and full color photographs dominate each page, interspersed with text describing the innovations represented in the pictures. End papers include a note about native languages, suggested reading, sources, picture credits, and an index. The author, who is Ojibway, is a scholar and teacher.
Although the information is not specific to one individual nation, the book provides an accurate introduction to certain aspects of culture, which is prominent among many tribes. Innovations and practices are mostly credited to the region in which they were used, mainly because the climate and terrain of the region prompted their development. When applicable, inventions are credited to specific nations.
The abundance of pictures and minimal text will make this book appealing to younger tweens, or middle graders who have an aversion to text heavy books. The book is an excellent supplement to more detailed and nation specific material.
Medicine Crow, Joseph. Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond. National Geographic (2006). 128 pages. Tr. $13.61, ISBN: 978-0-7922-5391-4
This is the compelling autobiography of Joseph Medicine Crow. Born in 1913 and raised in Montana by pre-reservation Indians, Joseph lived in two worlds – one in which he received a traditional warrior’s training, the other in which he attended a Baptist church and fought for the United States in W.W.II. Medicine Crow narrates each chapter as if he is telling a story in person. He recounts details of his childhood that will intrigue modern day children, such as rising before dawn to roll naked in the snow – a practice his grandfather guaranteed would build health and strength. Medicine Crow also references important historical events through stories passed to him by family members such as his great uncle who served as one of six Crow scouts to General Custer.
Short chapters and large font make the book accessible for younger tweens. There are a few full color photographs and a map, but readers will need to mostly rely on the text for comprehension.
Counting Coup won the American Indian Library Association’s American Indian Youth Literature award winner in 2008. The book comes highly recommended by Beverly Slapin (n.d.), cofounder of the organization Oyate and a prolific reviewer of Native American literature.
Keoke, Emory Dean and Kay Marie Porterfield. American Indian Contributions to the World. Chelsea House, 2005. 5 Volumes. Tr. $175, ISBN: 978-0-8160-5392-6
Buildings, Clothing, and Art 148 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-8160-6970-5
Food, Farming, and Hunting 148 pages, Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-8160-5393-3
Medicine and Health 148 pages, Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-8160-5396-4
Science and Technology 148 pages, Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-8160-5397-1
Trade, Transportation, and Warfare 148 pages, Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-8160-5395-7
Grades 5 – 8
Each of the five volumes in this series presents little known information about the inventiveness and ingenuity of native peoples of North, Central, and South America. Contributions include everything from popcorn and chocolate to insect repellent, geometry, and sign language. These volumes feature information compiled in Keoke and Porterfield’s acclaimed Encyclopedia of American Indian contributions to the world: 15,000 years of inventions and innovations. Where as the encyclopedia is written for young adults, the smaller volumes in the series are geared toward students in grades four though eight. Furthermore, the organization of topics by theme allows the material to be applied to a broad curriculum.
Numerous black and white photographs, maps, and illustrations support the text with boxes highlighting additional features. Timelines, a glossary of ancient cultures, an appendix of maps, an appendix listing tribes by culture area, a further reading list, and an index make the books a useful resource for classroom study or individual research.
Keoke’s work is highly recommended by Oyate and American Indians in Children’s Literature. Both organizations suggest these volumes as replacements for outdated or inaccurate reference materials such as Bruce Grant's Concise Encyclopedia of the American Indian.
Waldman, Carl. Atlas of the North American Indian. Illustrated by Molly Braun. Facts on File, 2009. 450 pages. Tr. $85, ISBN 978-0-8160-6858-6
Grades 5 – 12
Packed with maps and fascinating information, Atlas of the North American Indian chronicles the travels, culture, and major events of Native American tribes in the present day United States and Canada. The book is organized by subject and features seven sections: “Ancient Native Peoples,” “Ancient Civilizations,” “Native Lifeways,” “Native Peoples and Explorers,” “Indian Wars,” “Native Land Cessions,” and “Contemporary Native North Americans”. Several appendixes enrich the text and reiterate the existence of thriving nations in the present day. Appendixes include “Chronology of Indian Prehistory”, “List of Tribes with History and Contemporary Locations”. “List of U.S. Reservations”, “List of Canadian Bands”, “List of U.S. and Canadian Place Names”, and “List of Museums Dedicated to North American Indians”. Endpapers feature a list of maps and a glossary.
Although the book is text heavy, the third edition features 130 full-color illustrations in addition to the original black and white maps and illustrations featured on every page. Other updates include information on the first Native American in space and the Canadian Parliament's endorsement of the UN "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The book is great for quick reference and general overviews of many Native American nations. It is an invaluable supplement for studying the history of Indians in North America. Although it is a reference book, the material is fascinating, comprehensible, and interesting enough for pleasure reading.
The History and Culture of Native Americans Set, 14-Volumes, Chelsea House, 2011. Tr. $490, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9972-5
Bonvillain, Nancy. The Nez Perce. 144 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 78-1-60413-791-0
Bonvillain, Nancy. The Zuni. 156 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-799-6
Bowes, John P. The Choctaw. 133 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-788-0
Conley, Robert J. The Cherokee. 112 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-796-5
Crompton, Samuel W. The Cheyenne. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-797-2
Crompton, Samuel W. The Mowhawk. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-787-3
Denetdale, Jennifer. The Navajo. 162 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-792-7
Frank, Andrew K. The Seminole. 128 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-790-3
Jastrzembski, Joseph C.,The Apache. 129 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-793-4
Johansen, Bruce E. The Iroquios. 128 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-794-1
Lacey, T. Jensen. The Blackfeet. 122 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-795-8
Lacey, T. Jensen. The Comonche. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-789-7
Pritzker, Barry M. The Hopi. 122 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-798-9
Rzeczkowski, Frank. The Lakota Sioux. 144 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-1-60413-800-9
The series details the history, culture, political structure, and contributions of 14 Native American nations. The sequence of the books follows a chronological sequence beginning with tribal origins and creation beliefs and culminating with contemporary issues. Major historical events, military conflicts, landmark treaties, displacements, and transitions are discussed and personal accounts enhance information when possible. Each book details the government structure of that tribe as a sovereign nation. Photos, illustrations, and map support the text and aid in comprehension. Back matter includes a comprehensive index, bibliography, timeline, glossary, and suggested resource page.
Written by scholars in the field of Native American studies and history, the books offer a well-researched starting point for students studying specific nations. Some libraries catalog this series in the adult section, implying that the books are intended for high school students. However, the language and structure is accessible for middle graders and the publisher markets the books for grades six through 12.
Landmark Events in Native American History – 8 volume series, Chelsea House, 2007. Set $280, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9681-9
Jastrzembski, Joseph C. The Apache Wars: The Final Resistance. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9343-6
Bowes, John P., Black Hawk and the War of 1832. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9342-9
Bowes, John P., The Trail of Tears. 128 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9345-0
Denetdale, Jennifer. The Long Walk. 144 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9344-3
Holm, Tom. Code Talkers and Warriors. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9340-5
Johnson, Troy R. Red Power: The Native American Civil Rights Movement. 112 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9341-2
Lawson, Michael L. Little Bighorn: Winning the Battle, Losing the War. 168 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9347-4
Mandell, Daniel R. King Pilip’s War. 136 pages. Tr. $35, ISBN: 978-0-7910-9346-7
Grades 7 – 12
Various Dewey numbers 323, 940, 970, 973, 975, 978
This series details specific events in Native American history from the 17th to the 20th century. Each title begins with a brief description of the subject with comprehensive background information. A detailed explanation of the event follows concluding with the effect of that event on modern times. The books identify tribes as sovereign nations. Though certain titles speak from the perspective of the Europeans such as Little Bighorn: Winning the Battle, Losing the War, others present events from the eyes of native peoples.
Authors are experts in the specific field of Native American culture and history in which they write. Jennifer Denetdale, author of The Long Walk is Diné, in addition to being a historian. Each title reads differently according to the author’s style. For instance, text in The Apache Wars alternates between a narrative nonfiction voice and informational voice while Red Power sticks to informational. However, the books follow a uniform design. Information is organized in chronological order and divided into chapters, which help to organize the material. End papers include a chronology and timeline, chapter notes, a bibliography, suggested reading, picture credits, and an index. Although the books are text heavy, illustrations, photos, and maps support the information and add interest. The books will work best for older tweens who are doing more in depth research projects.
Indians of North America Video Collection [3-discs]. 104 minutes. Schlessinger Media, 1994. DVD $119.96, ISBN: 978-1-41710-783-4
A History of Native Americans, 30 minutes, $39.95, ISBN: 978-1-41710-786-5
This brief, educational documentary provides an overview of events pertaining to Native Americans beginning with the Columbus expedition. History is explained from the Indian’s perspective through interviews with Native American tribal members, illustrations, photographs, and reenactments. Because the film was made in 1994, the production value seems low and the styles are outdated. However, the information is valid and the length of the film will fit neatly into a class period. Obviously, the topic is broad but this is a good starting point for more in-depth research. The other films in the series focus on specific nations. I also recommend the mini-series 500 Nations for a more detailed account of Native American history. I did not include it in the list only because it was not made specifically for tweens, but I mention it in additional materials.
Native American Facts for Kids: Resources on American Indians for Children and Teachers http://www.native-languages.org/kids.htm
This is a reliable starting place for research about the history, culture, and daily life of specific American Indians nations. This site is purposely simple and void of animations, games, or illustrations. This allows the site to load reliably on older computers. The page welcomes visitors with a reminder that there are over three million Native American people in Canada and the United States including over a million children and that the website is a resource for both native and non-native students. Although the site is primitive, it contains a wealth of information divided into over 200 tribal categories arranged alphabetically. The site even features booklists for information on specific nations. There are also general categories as well as a resource list containing book, film, and website recommendations. There is even a place to submit questions.
I clicked on the category Miwok Indians and linked to a Miwok factsheet containing information about aspects of Miwok life, tradition, language, and history. The page contained several links to more in-depth sites such as the California Valley Miwok Tribe’s homepage and a link to the website’s adult Miwok resource page. Although there are no illustrations on the fact page, there are many links to pictures
The website is maintained by the Native Languages of the Americas, a non-profit organization in Minnesota, which is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of endangered American Indian Languages. Native American Facts for Kids is part of the Native Languages website, which is a compilation of information and resources about individual nations. Members of that specific nation write each individual tribe page, ensuring accuracy and authority.
500 Nations [4-discs]. Directed by Jack Leustig. 372 minutes. Warner Home Video, 2004. DVD $49.98. ISBN: 978-0-7907-9883-7
Though not intended exclusively for tweens, this mini-series provides and detailed account of Native American history from the 17th to the 20th century. Production value is excellent and interviews, photographs, and illustrations support the material.
Materials for Librarians and Educators
Seale, Doris and Beverly Slapin. A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. 463 pages. Tr. $60, ISBN: 978-0-7591-0779-3
A Broken Flute is a crucial text for teachers and librarians who strive to develop an objective and critical eye for multiculturalism in children’s literature. The bulk of the book is made up of hundreds of comprehensive reviews, detailing why a book succeeds or fails based on specific content or text. Reviews are written in a way in which to educate the reader on evaluative points, rather than to simply sell or condemn books. In addition to reviews, the book is packed with essays on specific subjects such as the Thanksgiving myth and Indian boarding schools. There are also poems and essays authored by the reviewers and their children, which reflect upon negative portrayals of native peoples and their personal experience making their voices heard.
Slapin, Beverley. Basic Skills: Caucasian American Workbook. PM Press, 2013. 128 pages. P.B. $14.95, ISBN: 978-1604865202
This is a tongue-in-cheek reversal on books that fictionalize, generalize, and inaccurately portray Native Americans. It makes a good companion book to Slapin’s A Broken Flute and provides a humorous but accurate perspective on how we evaluate children’s books. Oakland Public Library children’s librarian Nina Lindsay commented, "Every public library that values a balanced social studies section must have this 'go-to' resource on understanding Caucasian Americans. Delightful illustrations, word scrambles and other exercises make it fun as well as truly educational; and it makes a great recommendation for family car trips (n.d., http://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=544)."
Books to Avoid
Nelson, S.D. Black Elk’s Vision: a Lakota’s Story. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010. 56 pages. Tr. $21.95, ISBN: 978-0-8109-8399-1
Nelson, S.D. Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015. 55 pages. Tr. $21.95, ISBN: 978-1-41970-731-5
Grades 3 – 6
Though many of S.D. Nelson’s books are accurate and excellent, the biographies Black Elk’s Vision and Sitting Bull have been criticized due to a first person narrative, multiple inaccuracies, and invented dialogue. On the surface these books are very attractive and positively reviewed by major journals like Horn Book (2016). Sitting Bull is even recommended by the American Indian Library Association (2016). However, Beverly Slapin (2016) wrote an extensive review detailing multiple inaccuracies and Oyate chose not to include the books in their catalog. The books exemplify the challenge involved in developing an honest and accurate collection of Native American nonfiction materials.
Sewall, Marcia. People of the Breaking Day. Anthenum/Simon & Schuster (1990). 48 pages. Tr. $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-689-31407-0
Despite beautiful illustrations, a glossary, and a terminology of Wampanoag words, this book lacks authority as well as credits. First person, present tense narration is inappropriate for a history book. Choose 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving as a better alternative.
Although I am by no means an expert on Native American materials, I am beginning to develop valuable evaluation skills as a result of adhering to the criteria I put forth for this assignment. Normally, I rely heavily on scholarly and consumer reviews when selecting materials. In the case of Native American history and culture nonfiction, I quickly learned that the popular perspective on the subject is not always the most informed. Many materials, which received positive if not rave reviews from major journals, did not meet the criteria guidelines of Native American literature organizations such as Oyate, American Indians in Children’s Literature, and the American Indian Library Association. Some did not meet the criteria outlined by Kathleen T. Horning (2010). Although I tried to locate materials written by Native American authors, as outlined by Reese (n.d.), this also did not guarantee that the material met the criteria. In some cases, this was due to first person personification of historical figures, fabricated dialogue, or inaccurate information. Many books lacked end papers, a bibliography, quote citations, or any other acknowledgements or author’s notes pertaining to the authority of the writer.
As we cannot all be experts in American Indian history and culture, it is helpful to refer to qualified sources when selecting materials concerning Native Americans. Ideally, the reviews published by American Indian organizations, as well as awards given, would appear alongside reviews from Horn Book, School Library Journal, and Kirkus in catalogs and publisher websites. As this is not a current trend, a bit of extracurricular research is necessary to uncover qualified opinions. This is no doubt true of most multicultural literature.
In conclusion, the project was a lesson in evaluation and critical thinking as much as collection development. Teachers and librarians must learn to evaluate materials critically and to impart this skill to students, encouraging kids to consult multiple sources with an eye on perspective, authority, and detail. In this day and age, it has never been more important to think critically. In the words of Debbie Reese, “Own your knowledge, own your decisions” (2014).
American Indian Library Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ailanet.org/
American Indian Library Association. (2016). American Indian Youth Literature Award [brochure]. Retrieved from http://ailanet.org/wp- content/uploads/2016/02/2016-AIYLA-Winners.pdf
California Department of Education. (2016). 2016 History Social-Science Framework. Retrieved from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/sbedrafthssfw.asp
Cubbin, E. (2000). Techniques for evaluating Native American websites. Retrieved from http://www.u.arizona.edu/~ecubbins/webcrit.html
Danielson, D. (February 1, 2016). The stories in between [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/stories-between/
Dow, J. (June 12, 2006). Deconstructing the myths of the first Thanksgiving [blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.oyate.org/index.php/resources/43- resources/thanksgiving
Horn Book. (November 22, 2016). Native American heritage month. Retrieved from http://www.hbook.com/2016/11/choosing-books/recommended- books/native-american-heritage-month/#_
Horning, K.T. (2010). From cover to cover: Evaluating and reviewing children’s books. Harper Collins: New York, NY.
Infobase Publishing. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://infobasepublishing.com
Native Languages of the Americas. (n.d.). American Indian children’s books and literature. Retrieved from http://www.native-languages.org/children- books.htm
Oyate. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.oyate.org/
Peck, P. (2010). Reader’s advisory for children and ‘tweens. Libraries Unlimited/ABC- Clio: Santa Barbara, CA.
Reese, D. (October 31, 2016). John Harrington’s mission to space is exceptional [blog post]. Retrieved from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/10/john- herringtons-mission-to-space-is.html
Reese, D. (August 4, 2015). Looking for nonfiction?[blog post]. Retrieved from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/search?q=nonfic tion
Reese, D. (March 31, 2007). Encyclopedic resources for projects on American Indians [blog post]. Retrieved from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2007/03/resou rces-for-american-indian-research.html
Reese, D. (June 18, 2009). Jennifer Denetdale’s The Long Walk: The Forced Navajo Exile [blog post]. Retrieved from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/search?q=navaj o+long+walk
Rose, C. (November 12, 2014). Native American heritage month resources for teachers [blog post]. Retrieved from http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/12/native- american-heritage-month-resources-teachers-157797
Seale, D. (2005). A Broken Flute: The Native experience in books for children. Altamira Press, Berkeley California.
Shaver, S. (February, 2008). Landmark Events in Native American History [series review]. School Library Journal 52(2). Retrieved November, 2016 http://titlewave.com.
Slapin, Beverly. (n.d.) Counting coup: Becoming a crow chief on the reservation and beyond [review]. Retrieved November, 2016 from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2006/12/josep h-medicine-crows-counting-coup.html
Slapin, B. (May 14, 2016). Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of his People [review]. Retrieved November, 2016 from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/05/beverl y-slapins-review-of-sd-nelsons.html
Walker, R. (October 1, 2009). Atlas of the North American Indian [review]. School Library Journal 55(10). Retrieved November, 2016 from Academic Search Complete.
Criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Doris Seale, Beverly Slapin and Rosemary Gonzales (2000, http://www.oyate.org/index.php/component/content/article/41-resources/how-to-tell-the-difference/19-how-to-tell-the-difference)
A) LOOK AT PICTURE BOOKS:
A.1) In ABC books, is “E” for “Eskimo” or “I” for Indian present?
A.2) In Counting books, are “Indians” counted?
A.3) Are children shown as “playing Indian”?
A.4) Are animals dressed as “Indians”?
A.5) Do “Indians” have ridiculous names, like “Indian Two Feet,” or “Little Chief”?
B) LOOK FOR STEREOTYPES:
B.1) Are Native peoples portrayed as savages, or primitive craftspeople, or simple tribal people, now extinct?
Select Only Books in which Native peoples are shown as human beings, members of highly defined and complex societies.
B.2) Are Native societies oversimplified and generalized? Are Native people all one color, one style?
Select Only Books in which Native societies are presented as separate from each other, with each culture, language, religion, dress, unique.
B.3) Is the art a mishmash of “generic Indian” designs?
Select Only Books which pay attention to accurate, appropriate design and color, and in which are clothes, dress, houses drawn with careful attention to detail.
C) LOOK FOR LOADED WORDS:
C.1) Are there insulting overtones to the language in the book? Are racist adjectives, like “primitive,” “pristine,” “simple,” “Injun” or “savage” used to refer to Indian peoples?
Select Only Books in which the language respectful, and worthy of use in reference to any other technologically advanced person or group of people.
D) LOOK FOR TOKENISM
D.1) Are Native people depicted as stereotypically alike, or do they look just like whites with darker faces?
Select Only Books in which Native people are depicted as genuine individuals, having unique and complex qualities and characteristics.
E) LOOK FOR DISTORTION OF HISTORY
E.1) Is there manipulation of words like “victory,” “conquest,” or “massacre” to justify Euro-American conquest of the Native homelands? Are Native Nations presented as being responsible for their own “disappearance?” Is the U.S. government only “trying to help?”
Select Only Books in which is history put in the proper perspective: the Native struggle for self-determination and sovereignty against the Euro-American drive for conquest and greed.
F) LOOK FOR VICTIMIZATION
F.1) Does the story encourage children to believe that Native peoples accepted defeats passively?
Select Only Books in which the story show the ways in which Native people actively resisted the invaders or continue to work for self-determination and sovereignty today.
F.2) Are Native heroes limited to those who, in some way or another, are believed to have aided Europeans in the conquest of their own people (Examples include some popular depictions of Pocahontas, or La Malinche)?
Select Only Books in which Native heroes are admired because of what they do for their own people.
G) LOOK AT THE LIFESTYLES
G.1) Are Native cultures presented in a condescending manner? Are there paternalistic distinctions between “them” and “us?” Are Native peoples depicted as needing aid from outsiders, and having no ability to govern their own land and people effectively?
Select Only Books which focus on respecting Native peoples and understanding of the sophistication and complexity of their societies.
G.2) Are Native peoples discussed in the past tense only, supporting the “vanished Indian” myth? Is the past unconnected to the present? (Be thorough – use of the past tense is a pervasive issue in books about Native peoples. Remember that any general reference to a tribe which is not explicitly to historical events, should be written in the present tense. For example, the sentence “Many California tribes used acorn in their meals” should actually have been written in the PRESENT tense, as this is still a widely consumed food among many California Natives.)
Select Only Books in which the continuity of cultures represented. Look for values, religions, and morals, as an outgrowth of the past, connected to the present, and taking the people into the future.
G.3) Is a society portrayed in a distorted or limited way? Are religions described as “superstitions,” with backward or primitive connotations?
Select Only Books in which Indian religions and traditions are described accurately, in the context of their civilizations, and commanding as much recognition and legitimacy as any practice or belief in the Christian or any other major religion.
G.4) Is there an ethnocentric Western focus on material objects, such as baskets, pottery, rugs? Examples include depicting these objects strictly as “art,” or as a means to trade with Euro-Americans.
Select Only Books in which the writer shows an understanding of the relationship between material and non-material aspects of life.
G.5) Are Native peoples shown as “relentlessly ecological”?
Select Only Books in which Native societies are described as coexisting with nature, having achieved such delicate balance as a result of their advanced understanding of Earth systems, scientific process, and principles of sustainability.
H) LOOK AT DIALOG
H.1) Do the People speak in either a sort of “early jawbreaker,” broken English, or in the oratorical style of the “noble savage”?
Select Only Books in which the People use language with the consummate and articulate skill of those who come from an oral tradition.
I) LOOK FOR STANDARDS OF SUCCESS
I.1) In modern times, are Indian people portrayed as childlike and helpless? Does a white authority figure – pastor, social worker, teacher – know better than Native people themselves what is “good for them?” Are Indian children “better off” away from their families?
Select Only Books in which Native adults seen as mature individuals who work hard and make sacrifices, in order to take care of their families, and for the well-being of the people
I.2) Do Native people and their communities contrast unfavorably with the “norm” of white middle-class suburbia?
Select Only Books in which Native people and their communities are seen as their own cultural norm.
I.3) Does it require Native people to adhere to “white” values and standards in order to get ahead or experience success?
Select Only Books in which Native values of cooperation, generosity, sharing, honesty, and courage are seen as integral to growth and development.
J) LOOK AT THE ROLE OF WOMEN
J.1) Are women completely subservient to men? Do they do all the work, while the men loll around, waiting for the next hunt?
Select Only Books in which women are portrayed as the integral and respected part of Native societies that they really are.
K) LOOK AT THE ROLE OF ELDERS
K.1) Are elders treated as a dispensable burden upon their People, to be abandoned in times of trouble or famine? Are they portrayed as querulous, petulant, demanding, nagging, irritating, or boring?
Select Only Books in which elders are treated as loved and valued custodians of the People’s history, culture, and life ways. They should be depicted as active members of the community, whose contributions are valued and appreciated. They should be as cherished in the words of the writer as they were and are in the lives of the People depicted.
L) LOOK FOR THE EFFECTS ON A CHILD’S SELF-IMAGE
L.1) Is there anything in the story that would embarrass or hurt a Native child? Are there any explicit or implicit lessons that would be harmful if instilled upon a child, Native or non-Native?
Select Only Books in which there is one or more positive role models with which a Native child can identify. Children should feel empowered and inspired by the literature they read.
M) LOOK AT THE AUTHOR’S OR ILLLUSTRATOR’S BACKGROUND
M.1) Is the background of the author and illustrator devoid of qualities that enable them to write about Native peoples in an accurate, respectful manner? Is there an ethnocentric bias that leads to distortions or omissions?
Select Only Books for which the author’s and illustrator’s background qualifies them to write about Native peoples. Their perspectives should strengthen the work.