February 09, 2011

Lakota protest Baum's editorials

Native Sun News:  Lakota protest set at Wizard of Oz performance

By Evelyn BroecherThe United Urban Warrior Society will conduct a peaceful protest this week at the Civic Center’s presentation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The author of the book, L. Frank Baum is still widely known for the Oz books he wrote in the early 1900s. Little known are the editorials he published in Aberdeen Saturday Review which called for the extermination of the Lakota people six days after the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

James Swan said the Society will protest at the Broadway play which is scheduled to open on Friday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The play runs through Saturday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Comment:  The article doesn't state the point of this protest. To get an apology from the Baum estate? To raise awareness of Baum's editorials? I don't think either goal is worth the effort.

One of my Facebook friends offered this objective for the protest:Folks can send an email to the civic center:



"I am extremely displeased that Rapid City Civic Center is hosting the Wizard of Oz. The writer was terribly racist and advocated the extermination of American Indians. This is unacceptable and shows poorly on your business that you will host a known racist and advocate of genocide."
I still don't buy it. Are we going to censor or ban every American who advocated the killing of Indians? Or the owning of slaves? Or support for cruel tyrants, or illegal wars? That would include most Americans, including the presidents from George Washington to Andrew Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt to George W. Bush. And censoring or banning the dead ones won't change what they said or did. I'm not sure what it'll do except make the protesters feel good.

If the goal is to educate, then educate. Write a letter to the editor or post the info on your blog. Then move on to a more substantial issue. Baum's editorials haven't hurt anyone in more than a century, and his Oz books haven't hurt anyone, period. So they're not an issue worth fighting over.

For more on the subject, see Indians in Top 100 Children's Novels and The Indian-Oz Connection.


Burt said...

I disagree with protesting this production, but I am all for the awareness of Baum's call for genocide during his time as an educational approach.

The problem with protesting Baum is that we have bigots alive and active today attacking Indian sovereignty and an American population that is completely clueless to racism from all sides, natives included.

We could all use an upgrade in our acceptance and assessment of myths and outright lies pertaining to our own Native and American historys, pre-Columbian and since.

The Wizard of Oz is a childrens story, just like Tom Sawyer or Catcher In The Rye for some teens.

If you want to make a difference about racism, try changing whats going on around you today instead of the last century. I am sure there are plenty of politicians and leaders in South Dakota that are doing more harm today against the Sioux people than L Frank Baum, a racist and author of childrens books.

dmarks said...

Does an L. Frank Baum estate even exist any more?

Both of you made great points. Such a protest might have more point, say, if the presentation involved Baum's editorial writings, as opposed to the "Wizard of Oz".