Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name will be removed from the title of a major children’s book award, over concerns about her depiction of other races in her almost century-old stories. I have books from my childhood that I read to my kids. Created by Blanche Hanalis. I never thought her remarks about the Indians were “racist” as I was seeing them through the eyes of another naive 8 or 9 year old girl. Most fear of someone “different”, or another color, than ourselves, is because people are afraid, of the unknown. As an adult I cringe when I read the books but I have to remind myself that society has made progress and I’ve grown as a person to recognize racism. Wilder mentions the “Minnesota Massacre” in her account of Mrs. Scott’s hatred for the Osage: “The only good Indian was a dead Indian. She said, ‘I can’t forget the Minnesota massacre. While the controversy over Wilder’s work has existed for over 20 years, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ is not the only classic novel that has faced a … This is the second year I’ve taught Little House on the Prairie in my 5th grade class and it has opened up some very frank and meaningful conversations about prejudice, racism, and historical context. Because, of what they read, and heard about “The Hell’s Angels”. Great article! This is why it is important to be present when our children are reading things that may not reflect our own values. Yes, times have changed, and attitudes for the most part have changed, but one should never try to change history and what life was like back then. Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when she published her first book, the beloved Little House in the Big Woods.By this time, her only daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, already had a … The mega-popular book series was famously made into an equally popular TV series by NBC which aired from 1974-1983. It began graying when the actor was still in his 20s, so he relied on over-the-counter dye to cover it up himself. Laura tells several stories of Indians coming to the Ingalls’ home and demanding food and other goods. If anything I felt it embodied the exact opposite. These are just a few of the more notable depictions of corporal punishment on the small screen. When the Osage returned from their trip they found their home and their lands occupied by all kinds of settlers who, in their minds, were stealing from them. Laura’s stories come from an oral tradition. We cannot forget these books were written in a time where this was the norm. Before we begin to read the book in my classroom I take a few moments to talk about Wilder’s real life and the historical accuracy of her books. Required fields are marked *. Open dialogues should be part of book discussions with children, always encouraging them to share their questions and views. Stretched to their limits, local militias were unable to protect their communities. Your comments are very interesting. Little House on the Prairie contains the notorious slur, "the only good Indian is a dead Indian. When my two are older I will read them the books at night. The word ‘n**ger’ is used 48 times in the novel, as Lee sought to convey the social attitudes of the time. I would strongly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown and read the chapter on “Little Crow’s War” for a better understanding of the Dakota uprising in Minnesota. In recent years the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder have been accused of being culturally insensitive and even racist, particularly Little House on the Prairie. The US Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has removed Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from one of its awards over racist views and language. Times change. I think reading the books with children and taking the opportunity to use some of the racist viewpoints of characters to open up a discussion about race in America is a great thing. Laurapalooza 2012. Books: Little House series fanfiction archive with over 166 stories. Here Albert's bad choice to smoke leads to the death of Mary's baby and Mrs. Garvey. Whatever a massacre was, it was something that grown-ups would not talk about when little girls were listening.”. Your email address will not be published. However, like the books, that series hasn’t aged well. These books explore different areas of Wilder’s life and work, often bringing new and unexpected interpretations to a wide range of topics. Whoa now. We recommend reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. These kinds of questions will help children understand the historical perspective and that right or wrong, people have their own belief systems, then and now. This is history folks, good, bad, and ugly. Little House on the Prairie, a television show based on Laura Wilder's life, aired in 1974 and ran until 1982. Is Little House on the Prairie truly racist? My Pa and brothers went out with the rest of the settlers…Ma made a sharp sound in her throat, and Mrs. Scott stopped. But, we must remember, this was before the Internet. Reading them for the first time in years I am once again reminded of the fact that 2019 is vastly different than the 1880s. Filed Under: History, Learning Tagged With: Books, History, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie. I already knew that was just what had happened. I got here because I was just watching LHOTP and wanted to see the map of walnut grove You come across the words “the only good Indian was a dead Indian.” Do you put the book down in horror, shocked by the cultural insensitivity of the author? This article made me question why I had never questioned the reason the Ingalls Family settled on land that didn’t belong to them, even when I was a child and didn’t have a great knowledge of history. These things should not be swept under the rug or ignored. If we haven’t met, or heard the good things, about a certain race, or someone from “Minnesota Massacre” is about the most racist and blatant one-sided take on the 1862 Dakota Conflict you can find, its an old an sensationalized text that should not be taught to children. Reading Little House on the Prairie with children today requires explanation. This story held no intention of racism. From the perspective of the Indians, I’m sure it seemed like a righteous resistance. Little House on the Prairie controversy has Missouri connection. And of course, she was writing historical fiction, not an autobiography. If my son chooses to read the books one day, I hope he’ll do so with a critical mind, considering himself an ally to those whose stories history textbooks have attempted to erase. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE® and associated character names, designs, images and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks owned and licensed by Friendly Family Productions, LLC. Nice refuge from parents who fought all the time. All rights reserved. I don’t care who you are or how mad you can be at someone but killing women and children and babies YES babies, makes it a massacre! With Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush. Her mother read Little House in the Big Woods in second grade and named her second daughter after the beloved author. In a relative sense, there are few heros and villains. But, to understand Laura’s story, we must understand the history behind the story. Copyright © 2015-2020 Friendly Family Productions, LLC Contributors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Licensing | Newsletters. © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2021. I suggest we talk about whether Ma’s fears were justified. The Ingles family welcome and embrace the native boy and his mother with open arms The Sioux Uprising or Dakota Wars resulted in the looting and burning of homesteads and the killing of white settlers in the area, including women and children. Thank You! The DVD contains an interesting bonus featurette about Native Americans and African Americans on the prairie. Since I learned that story, I’ve understood Ma’s feelings better and why they make sense given the time in history. In 1998, an eight-year-old native American girl on the Upper Sioux Reservation of southwestern Minnesota came home in tears after listening to her teacher reading the novel. Unfortunately, in a rush to complete her chores, Ma accidentally scratches her leg on some baling wire. I began reading the Little House books when I was 9-10 years old. These books should be read, shared, discussed now and with future generations. Pa is portrayed as being slightly more accepting of the Indians. I’m glad this is being used as a teaching resource to help kids understand cultural differences and conflicts and be more open minded. I’m working on addressing this now. When you think of Little House on the Prairie, you normally wouldn’t think of Missouri or racism. Motorcyclist are ordinary, people. I am not going to attempt to give a complete history of the Osage people or the sad legacy of the systematic removal of Native Americans by the government of the United States. They were part of an illegal rush of settlers into the Osage Diminished Reserve commonly called Indian Territory. In 2017, a school district in Mississippi decided to pull Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from its curriculum. It always holds a little fear, a little curiosity, a little empathy, and a little emulation. The kids act racist in school You may also be interested in an entertaining and educational documentary film about Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is appropriate for all ages. Charles Ingalls sold his farm in Wisconsin in 1868. The Indians in the area saw this as an opportunity to retake land that they felt belonged to them. In Little House on the Prairie Ma tells Laura that “Pa had word from a man in Washington that the Indian Territory would be open to a settlement soon. I applaud you for stating that rather than ban the books it is better to introduce children to historical books and talk about the views of the times and what progress has been made and what we need to do to continue to combat racism in our society. How else would we learn about the conflicts, thoughts, and outcomes of these situations that will occur in all our lives; all of them shaping history? But I suggest that rather than banning books or refusing to read them, we use them as a platform for examining the history of the United States. Before moving to Kansas, the Ingalls lived near the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Little House books are among those. Don’t make it a big thing and it won’t be. Autres temps, autres mœurs. Frankly, I love to meet people from other countries, learn their ways, and for the most part, taste “their” food. A Matter of Faith (Season 2 Episode 15) Not wanting to delay the family camping trip, Ma sends Pa off with the girls, promising to join them later. My conclusion is that Australia has its own entrenched history of displacing indigenous (Aboriginal) people that by the time I read the books when I was about 8 years old I just never questioned it. How would they tell the story to someone else? The life and adventures of the Ingalls … Finally, an article about the 1862 Sioux Uprising and how it relates to Little House! As an adult I have always read the books with a historical perspective and as being a product of their times. One last observation, I took from Laura’s books that she portrayed or tried to portray first nations with dignity and provided positive examples, such as the Long Winter and how an elder tried to help the townspeople by warning of the impending winter. This book is considered off limits now because of its treatment of American Indians (the Osage figure prominently in the story). 5. Wilder lived in rural Missouri, far away from libraries or universities with large reference sections. McLemore portrayed Laura Ingalls Wilder for the first time in 1993. Do you decry the author as a racist and vow to never read another word? Parents need to know that Little House on the Prairie is set on the American frontier in the late 19th century, so aspects of daily life may seem foreign to younger viewers who lack historical understanding. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. If we do not know the true history of our nation’s/culture’s past, how can we prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes? Little House On The Controversy: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name Removed From Book Award The Association for Library Service to Children voted … I love those books. I find it amazing that so many people equate the “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” thing with Laura being racist. December 7, 2018 By Laura McLemore This may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission on purchases. All if it was cold blooded murder! Laura, this is a wonderful response to the racism in the books. Her father was a storyteller and Laura herself said that her first books were an attempt to preserve the stories she grew up hearing. It might beunderstandable for Caroline Ingalls, in her time and place, to call it the “Minnesota Massacre” but it is not appropriate to continue to use that term outside of a direct quote. The American Civil Liberties Union at one point got involved, and threatened the school board with a lawsuit. I am part American Indian and I loved them as a kid. His Hair Was Naturally Gray. It’s just like people were, and some still are, afraid of those who ride motorcycles. How can we help children develop an understanding of the historical perspective in Little House on the Prairie? I first read the books when I was about 12 or so. I agree with them completely. However, it seems that the original book series which the show was based on, was banned in a few schools under the claim that it contained some underlying controversial content. Other worthwhile books are Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862 edited by Gary Clayton Anderson and Alan R. Woolworth and Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 by Duane P. Schultz. Few people today realize, and perhaps Laura herself didn’t know, that a section of Kansas was once called Indian Territory. Very good insight to these books. For nearly 100 years, the “ Little House ” books (and the subsequent television series) have been cherished by kids and adults around the world. The following two tabs change content below. But in the 1970s, the debate about the books’ intentions was far in the future. What better way to learn our history than by reading a classic like Little House on the Prairie and using it as a platform for discussion? In order for readers to understand Ma, you need to understand where she was coming from. Loved: “What better way to learn our history than by reading a classic like Little House on the Prairie and using it as a platform for discussion?”. That said, there are certainly things in the book that have been an issue for many, many years. Now the legendary author who wrote those books has had her name stripped from a major children’s book award. I am now 72. Obviously, she was cast as older than that in both Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. My mother read them to me when I was a child. Moreover, she has never faced any controversy in … Ma was terrified of these visits. YouTube / Little House on the Prairie. The ALSC drew attention to Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’ novels, which it said include “expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC's core values." According to the school, the 1884 book, which charts the adventures of a boy and an escaped slave on a journey down the Mississippi river, was not “inclusive” enough for modern students. Thank you! Very interesting article! In an article with the jarring title “Little Squatter on the Osage Diminished Reserve”, Francis Kaye states “Wilder, writing as honestly as she knew how, spun a tale that, because of her very decency, makes ‘ethnic cleansing’ appear palatable.”. She did not have information at her fingertips. Try :Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862 by Gary Clayton Anderson (Editor), Alan R. Woolworth (Editor), or “Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862” by Duane P. Schultz. Additionally, it is helpful to point out that Wilder presents a more favorable point of view using Pa as a counterpoint. I never really found any thing really racist in the books. Under the provisions of earlier treaties, the Osage had the right to charge squatters rent if they wanted to. In 1868, the Osage were facing dire economic circumstances. Sorrell Booke (adult) and Matthew Laberteaux in Little House on the Prairie. The Treaty of 1825 established the Osage Diminished Reserve, a section of land about 50 miles wide and 125 miles long in what is now south-central and southeast Kansas. In the mid-1870s, Laura witnessed one of … The stories in the books are told through the eyes of an intelligent, curious, answer seeking young girl who lived a life none of us are now living. 10. Laura had to rely on letter writing or long, slow trips to do on-site research as she did for Little House on the Prairie. Albert's addiction to morphine ), leukemia , child abuse, and even rape. I didn’t read the actual book related to this topic but I am seriously wondering how much the modern day obsession with calling absolutely everything under the sun “racist“ and it unnecessarily often , has a play in this article of course it’s sad and devastating what happened to the native Americans because of European settlers but it seems to me there’s so much we will never know about After all, Laura was only two when her family left Wisconsin and barely three when they arrived on the prairie. You can’t sanitize or change it. Controversy: The board voted unanimously to remove Wilder's name at their annual meeting over the weekend due to her anti-black and anti-Native writings (the … Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won’t tell you, ‘Uncomfortable’ language gets To Kill a Mockingbird pulled from Mississippi schools, Count Dankula and British alt-righters 'join UKIP' in order to spite anti-racist campaigners, ‘Do u?’ Melania’s jacket sparks fresh outrage amid immigration row, Fonda under fire over Trump pedo threat: RT looks at 5 times liberals got away with it, Lyin’, Crazy, Wacky, Sloppy: Trump’s nicknames keep on coming, God is on our side! I teach it in the spring. When most of the settlers arrived in Indian Territory, the Osage people were off on their annual hunting trips further west and it may have appeared that the land was unoccupied. She was not racist. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862, Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, documentary film about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Concerning Caroline Ingalls, I think she just feared what she did not know. ‘Little House on the Prairie’ has drawn negative attention for several decades. And we are right, in our times they are. Despite the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder gives us a important historical look at social perspectives through this book, it is still considered bad. Ma saw it as an intrusion by uninvited guests. “Little House on the Prairie” star Alison Arngrim says competition between her, Melissa Gilbert and Melissa Sue was so high that she is amazed they “didn’t kill each other.” The very thought of Indians made her blood run cold. As an adult I find that really sad. Maxine Waters calls on restaurants, gas stations to boo Trump admin. This series featured characters and places from the book series, but took drastic creative liberty with the story telling (as should be expected from a television show). The government had not paid them what was owed due to the great debt incurred by the Civil War and hunting was becoming scarce due to the settlement of the western frontier. There was nothing to fear from Indians.” Later Pa balances Mr. and Mrs. Scott’s hateful declaration when he makes this statement about Soldat du Chêne: “That’s one good Indian.’ No matter what Mr. Scott said, Pa did not believe that the only good Indian was a dead Indian.”. The chapter about “Little Crow’s War” provides important context to the Dakota uprising in Minnesota. As a child, Wilder survived a cloud of 3.5 trillion locusts. I’m not a writer so thanks for finally explaining it so simply. I enjoyed this thought-provoking article and wanted to let you know that this particular teachable moment is applicable in other countries with a history of colonialism. From the perspective of the white settlers, I am sure it did seem like a massacre. Conflicts between peoples were and are real and all readers should be able to read about these issues and, of course, be able to question values and mores of the times, from the author’s perspective. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. I remember feeling the fear of the unknown as the natives came into the cabin, the curiosity of the different as Laura rushes in to see them, the sadness she felt when watching them march along and away, and the pride she had when she tanned like “an indian” by ignoring her frustratingly restrictive bonnet. I when I was reading “Little House on the Prairie ” for the first time as a young girl about 22 years ago, I was concerned about Ma’s prejudices. Some plots also include subjects such as drug addiction (e.g. To strip her name off an award because she would be considered racist today is unfair. Let us use common sense, face our past errors honestly, and not doom ourselves to repeat them Explaining to children that during this time, the settlers did not understand the cultures of the various Native tribes and would say things and make sad choices out of fear is a simple truth every child can appreciate. I cannot express how refreshing it is to read the previous comments. For example, in chapter 21 of Little House on the Prairie, Pa must go to Independence to sell his furs. I have read them so many times! It held the myriad of emotions and feelings that anyone of any age in time feels when we encounter difference in race and culture. Little House on the Prairie was first published in 1935, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a concerned parent wrote to the publisher to take issue with a … We certainly enjoyed the TV show. We have a book on great white sharks from my childhood. Little House explored many different themes including frequently portrayed ones of adoption, alcoholism, faith, poverty, blindness, and prejudice of all types, including racism. The Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC) voted on Saturday to rename the ‘Laura Ingalls Wilder Award’ to the ‘Children’s Literature Legacy Award’, a decision that was apparently welcomed with a standing ovation from board members. Little House on the Prairie 1935, Laura Ingalls Wilder. The mega-popular book series was famously made into an equally popular TV series by NBC which aired from 1974-1983. When Ma expresses concern about the Indians being so near, Pa comforts her by saying “They are perfectly friendly’…He often met Indians in the woods where he was hunting. Discuss how it would feel to have strangers walk into their home uninvited and take whatever they wanted. When I was a child it did not occur to me that the books were racist since she was repeating what she heard or remembered hearing as a way of preserving the stories. Liberal use of the ‘N word’ saw Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ banned in a Philadelphia high school in 2015. Congress refused to ratify the Sturgis Treaty, fearing a backlash from their constituents who favored free settlement of the land under the Homestead Act of 1862. He freely cut logs to build a house, hunted wild game for food and furs, dug a well and broke the land for farming. Who knows, in 150 years, maybe 2020 will be considered offensive and unacceptable. Whether Pa knew this or not is open for debate, but it is highly unlikely that he would have been ignorant of this fact. There have been many fascinating books written about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter and editor Rose Wilder Lane. Great article. The episode I was watching was about “ their Indian friend” A three generation family in Walnut Grove with a grandson is half Native American It is called “Man-eating Killer Sharks.” My kids love it – even though today we know that sharks do not hunt for humans. I enjoyed it vry much. The Osage were forced once again to negotiate with the United States and signed the Sturgis Treaty. As Amy Fatzinger writes in her dissertation Indians in the House, Wilder raises “a great issue that was still problematic in the 1930s, when Little House on the Prairie was written and remains so today: the Euro-American preemption of lands occupied by Native Americans.” And, Wilder uses the voice of 7-year-old Laura to do so. Come in to read, write, review, and interact with other fans. To be honest, the show never did shy away from controversy. In 1993 an educator since 1983, Laura McLemore was destined to a lifelong love of Ingalls! 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