September 18, 2006

Big stereotypes on the prairie

Little House on the PrairieOne young woman remembers the phrase in the book "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" and another remembers feeling worried that Laura and her family were in danger.

Along with the book, the students read Michael Dorris's essay "Trusting the Words," in which he describes the joy with which he set out to read Little House to his daughters, only to be taken aback by the negative portrayals. He tried to edit them out as he read aloud, but eventually gave up.


Anonymous said...

I loved the "Little House" books for their authentic (albeit romanticized) portrayal of a family's journey westward. The attitudes toward Indians, considered racist by the standards of today, are important indicators of how settlers viewed their indigenous hosts. To discourage kids to read this would be detrimental--much like discouraging the reading of "Huckleberry Finn" or "Oliver Twist" because of their painfully bigoted depictions of African-Americans and Jews.

Rob said...

I wouldn't discourage kids from reading it if it was good literature, but I'd give them the necessary background to understand it. That's precisely what I argued for in my long deconstruction of Huck Finn.