September 25, 2008

What's wrong with Grizzly Bob?

Educator Debbie Reese tells us what's wrong with a Berenstain Bear dressed as an Indian:

Alphabet materials with "I is for Indian"Grizzly Bob is wearing a feathered headdress, fringed buckskin. That is commonly thought to be the way Indian men dressed. The word "Indian" brings that image to mind. While it is kind of like what some Plains tribes wear, it has obscures the diversity that exists across American Indian Nations. Overwhelmingly, images of Indians place us in the past, which obscures that we are people of the present day. Last, American society provides a lot of opportunities for people to dress up and "be" Indians. This includes the camp theme in this book. It seems Americans love to emulate some romantic idea about who they think American Indians were, but when American Indians of the present day speak up against all the past AND present mistreatments of our lands, spiritual places, stories, children, etc. etc. etc., our voices are dismissed and ignored. In sum, it seems that people love to love Indians in the abstract, but when a Native person in the present day says "hey... it is not ok for you to dig in our ceremonial grounds" or "hey... it isn't ok for you to build that house or store on our burial sites" the professed love for Indians is forgotten.(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 9/15/08.)

Comment:  Go to the original posting to see my thoughts on the subject.

For more on the subject, see Tricking or Treating Indians and Indian Wannabes.

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