Now the legendary author who wrote those books has had her name stripped from a major children’s book award. They sometimes just came and took whatever they wanted. I’m working on addressing this now. Maxine Waters calls on restaurants, gas stations to boo Trump admin. His Hair Was Naturally Gray. The Osage were forced once again to negotiate with the United States and signed the Sturgis Treaty. As of now, she has won the TP de Oro award and Bronze Wrangler awards for her role in Little House on the Prairie. And we are right, in our times they are. The Ingalls family was part of the wave of squatters or illegal settlers who entered and established homes in Montgomery County. Written by a fine education. 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. 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. He freely cut logs to build a house, hunted wild game for food and furs, dug a well and broke the land for farming. One thing I do love about the books is the way Laura described how her parents worked, to build a small cabin, raise crops, it is amazing that some children find the books boring. While one may assume that we’re all going along in 2019, you never know what children are being exposed to at home, as evidenced by our current rise in racially motivated attacks. Laura’s stories come from an oral tradition. As a child, Wilder survived a cloud of 3.5 trillion locusts. We recommend reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. 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. December 7, 2018 By Laura McLemore This may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission on purchases. 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 questions then arise, is this because Wilder is culturally insensitive or is she simply writing from her perspective, having been born in 1867 and writing in the 1930s? YouTube / Little House on the Prairie. This episode was, and always will be, the most talked about episode of Little House on the Prairie. The DVD contains an interesting bonus featurette about Native Americans and African Americans on the prairie. Ma saw it as an intrusion by uninvited guests. The American Civil Liberties Union at one point got involved, and threatened the school board with a lawsuit. Nice refuge from parents who fought all the time. The novels’ portrayal of black people and native Americans may have been accepted in the 1930s, but are now “not universally embraced,” said the association. I teach it in the spring. 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. These books explore different areas of Wilder’s life and work, often bringing new and unexpected interpretations to a wide range of topics. News of the impending opening of Indian Territory reached land-hungry settlers back east and caused an illegal land rush into the area. Who knows, in 150 years, maybe 2020 will be considered offensive and unacceptable. Pa is portrayed as being slightly more accepting of the Indians. 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. 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. We cannot and should not rewrite history. I have books from my childhood that I read to my kids. I never read racism into the words, but I also knew, even at my young age, that times were different in Laura’s day. 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. Is Little House on the Prairie truly racist? In late 1862 during the Civil War, many men left their families in Minnesota to fight in the war. Thank You! I grew up reading the books and I still read them since it offers a glimpse into a world that we just can’t experience. Reading them for the first time in years I am once again reminded of the fact that 2019 is vastly different than the 1880s. Only Indians lived there.” As did all of the settlers, Pa chose to ignore the fact that the land and everything on it belonged to the Osage people. I agree with them completely. These are just a few of the more notable depictions of corporal punishment on the small screen. All rights reserved. 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. 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. The chapter about “Little Crow’s War” provides important context to the Dakota uprising in Minnesota. But by the same measure, critics say, her family’s intrusion on Native American lands, particularly in “Little House on the Prairie,” represented a whole period of … The federal government denied any responsibility for protecting the settlers in Minnesota. Imagine you are reading a book that you loved as a child, perhaps you are reading it to your young child, or that you are reading it for the very first time. All rights reserved. The Little House books are among those. Liberal use of the ‘N word’ saw Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ banned in a Philadelphia high school in 2015. Laura, as an adult, ran for Tax Collector and lost. 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. We may feel today, given our 21st-century sensitivity, that Ma was wrong to fear the Osage or that Mr. and Mrs. Scott were racist. And of course, she was writing historical fiction, not an autobiography. 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. But, to understand Laura’s story, we must understand the history behind the story. The mega-popular book series was famously made into an equally popular TV series by NBC which aired from 1974-1983. When I was 8-9 in the ’70’s, my mom read the books to me, and I re-read them many times myself. It is appropriate to call it that because that’s what it was. Fifth graders from Cleaveland Traditional Magnet Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas reading Little House on the Prairie. I already knew that was just what had happened. 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. We can explain this to children as we read the books. The life and adventures of the Ingalls … Laurapalooza 2012. Finally, an article about the 1862 Sioux Uprising and how it relates to Little House! There have been many fascinating books written about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter and editor Rose Wilder Lane. It always holds a little fear, a little curiosity, a little empathy, and a little emulation. Laura lives in Maize, Kansas and is a fifth-grade teacher. Her father was a storyteller and Laura herself said that her first books were an attempt to preserve the stories she grew up hearing. Thank you! When we get to a spot where things get politically incorrect I just say, “People didn’t know it wasn’t nice to say those things back then.” My kids barely blink. In the mid-1870s, Laura witnessed one of … 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. You can’t sanitize or change it. Teachers should do this. Re-naming an event does not give one side or the other greater legitimacy. I first read the books when I was about 12 or so. 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 Ingalls family is a model of mutual respect and affection. 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). Referring to something by its known name is simply good communication. 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. To strip her name off an award because she would be considered racist today is unfair. As an adult I have always read the books with a historical perspective and as being a product of their times. To punish Laura Ingalls Wilder for not keeping within the standards of acceptability in 2020 shows lack of perspective and education. Although the land that Pa chose was obviously next to a well-used trail, he preferred to think of the land as unsettled. Laura, you never fail to amaze me. He moved his family first to Chariton County, Missouri and then on to Montgomery County, Kansas in late 1868 or early 1869. Today, the Little House books are not without controversy for their racially charged references to Native Americans and African Americans. ‘Little House on the Prairie’ has drawn negative attention for several decades. 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. Great article. This treaty said that the Osage would sell their land to the Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Galveston Railroad and buy land from the Cherokee further south and move there. Only Indians lived there.' She was not racist. The episode I was watching was about “ their Indian friend” A three generation family in Walnut Grove with a grandson is half Native American Despite the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder gives us a important historical look at social perspectives through this book, it is still considered bad. For example, in chapter 21 of Little House on the Prairie, Pa must go to Independence to sell his furs. Created by Blanche Hanalis. In 2017, a school district in Mississippi decided to pull Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from its curriculum. I think they are jaded by how very tough pioneer life was. Little House On The Controversy: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name Removed From Book Award The Association for Library Service to Children voted … I cannot express how refreshing it is to read the previous comments. I remember traveling across country in 1953 and having no air conditioner in the car. We don’t all think alike, nor do we always agree with others’ views of our world. In the fall, I teach The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich. 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. 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. 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. This website uses cookies. With Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush. Stretched to their limits, local militias were unable to protect their communities. Ask if people have an unjustified fear of other races today. 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. I read them to our son when he was little. Thank you for this article! There are two sides to the 1862 Dakota Conflict, the Dakota were starved by their Indian agents and were placed in a concentration camp for a year pending trial. Your email address will not be published. Note: There was also a popular and long-running television series based on the "Little House" books titled Little House on the Prairie that aired from 1974 - 1982. Obviously, she was cast as older than that in both Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. June 28, 2018. 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 … Reading Little House on the Prairie with children today requires explanation. To this day it makes me sad that Native Americans were forced onto reservations where they were basically starved, cheated and forced to give up their traditions, native tongues. 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. And , let’s not forget that there was a black woman in Little House on the Prairie as well (again I am referring to the TV show not the books) she was either a schoolteacher or a helper at NELLY’s restaurant I forgot which but she was well respected and loved in the show 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. Little House explored many different themes including frequently portrayed ones of adoption, alcoholism, faith, poverty, blindness, and prejudice of all types, including racism. If we haven’t met, or heard the good things, about a certain race, or someone from In 1868, the Osage were facing dire economic circumstances. Photo Credit: Getty Images: Bettmann/ Contributor *This piece was originally published on February 15th, 2019. Here’s some information that will put things in perspective as you read. 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. What a breath of fresh air in these tumultuous and divisive times. Interesting article. 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. Under the provisions of earlier treaties, the Osage had the right to charge squatters rent if they wanted to. Proud of you my friend. How would they tell the story to someone else? As we read Little House, we stop often and reflect on the similarities and differences between the main characters, their families, and their life styles. LEARN from history! 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. She was simply quoting someone else’s thoughts, which were likely stated more out of fear than anything. I have their handwritten marriage certificate from 1860 in Brown County. When my two are older I will read them the books at night. 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. The Osage saw it as collecting rent. As a result, some of her writing isn’t accurate. 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. Laura, this is a wonderful response to the racism in the books. I got here because I was just watching LHOTP and wanted to see the map of walnut grove I never really found any thing really racist in the books. What did we come to their country for, if you don’t like them?”; But why was Ma so afraid of the Osage? My ancestors are survivors who fled to New Ulm. For nearly 100 years, the “ Little House ” books (and the subsequent television series) have been cherished by kids and adults around the world. From the perspective of the white settlers, I am sure it did seem like a massacre. 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.” Required fields are marked *. 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. Another country, we are sometimes Leary. I’m glad we share a love for the Ingalls. “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.” In order for readers to understand Ma, you need to understand where she was coming from. Before moving to Kansas, the Ingalls lived near the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Well- written! I enjoyed it vry much. Autres temps, autres mœurs. 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. However, like the books, that series hasn’t aged well. 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. 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. 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. Why are some people trying to erase history and rewrite to suit their views??? But, we must remember, this was before the Internet. As an adult I find that really sad. Since I learned that story, I’ve understood Ma’s feelings better and why they make sense given the time in history. Your email address will not be published. Wilder mentions the “Minnesota Massacre” in her account of Mrs. Scott’s hatred for the Osage: “The only good Indian was a dead Indian. Melissa Gilbert as Laura Elizabeth Ingalls. 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. Laura asks Ma, “Why don’t you like Indians, Ma…This is Indian country, isn’t it? © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2021. I call them teachable moments. Most fear of someone “different”, or another color, than ourselves, is because people are afraid, of the unknown. While the book – which deals with the heavy issues of rape and racial injustice in the deep south – condemns the mistreatment of African Americans, the school board said that the book’s language made students uncomfortable. Your comments are very interesting. The kids act racist in school So far, there are not any drastic rumors regarding her personal and professional life. Additionally, it is helpful to point out that Wilder presents a more favorable point of view using Pa as a counterpoint. She did not have information at her fingertips. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 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." Moreover, she has never faced any controversy in … When I read historical fiction and non-fiction, I am enjoying a journey on a time machine. 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 … 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? You use your remarkable, God-given talent for writing in such interesting ways. These things should not be swept under the rug or ignored. 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 harsh re-appraisal in modern, politically correct America. In a relative sense, there are few heros and villains. I am glad I wasn’t born in those days! The difference is far too vast, and in the end, we are all products of our time. I’m privileged to call you my friend and fellow teacher. McLemore portrayed Laura Ingalls Wilder for the first time in 1993. It’s not my place to judge or justify them…but rather, to understand them from their perspective, to learn from them and mostly to enjoy the stories. These books should be read, shared, discussed now and with future generations. Laura tells several stories of Indians coming to the Ingalls’ home and demanding food and other goods. Whether Pa knew this or not is open for debate, but it is highly unlikely that he would have been ignorant of this fact. Because, of what they read, and heard about “The Hell’s Angels”. The real story behind the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ controversy August 8, 2018 In a unanimous decision, the Association for Library Service to Children renamed a lifetime achievement award honoring Laura Ingalls Wilder for her contribution to children’s literature. ... Award Controversy. It began graying when the actor was still in his 20s, so he relied on over-the-counter dye to cover it up himself. This story held no intention of racism. Little House on the Prairie contains the notorious slur, "the only good Indian is a dead Indian. The Ingles family welcome and embrace the native boy and his mother with open arms We invite you to visit our Recommended Reading section to find books for children and young adults and for adults. 10. However, beginning in 1808, the Osage tribe ceded several tracts of land to the United States government. Concerning Caroline Ingalls, I think she just feared what she did not know. From the author’s “perspective” is the important part. Whatever a massacre was, it was something that grown-ups would not talk about when little girls were listening.”. We certainly enjoyed the TV show. I began reading the Little House books when I was 9-10 years old. The newspapers were full of graphic accounts of what was then referred to as the “Minnesota Massacre.” Undoubtedly Ma had read these accounts. The following two tabs change content below. 5. One line in particular, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” left the third-grader distraught. Very well done. I came to this post exactly as one of the readers you described: an adult revisiting a beloved childhood story …then coming upon “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” My knee jerk reaction was “okay scratch this of the list to share with my future kids!” But you are completely right: Ingalls’ work is a great platform to discuss racism and xenophobia. 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. She said, ‘I can’t forget the Minnesota massacre. How can we help children develop an understanding of the historical perspective in Little House on the Prairie? I have read them so many times! To be honest, the show never did shy away from controversy. Very interesting article! There is the truth as Laura wrote in her books and there is the truth of her real life. 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. Copyright © 2015-2020 Friendly Family Productions, LLC Contributors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Licensing | Newsletters. I’m glad this is being used as a teaching resource to help kids understand cultural differences and conflicts and be more open minded. Some plots also include subjects such as drug addiction (e.g. It doesn’t stop me from reading the books since I still view them as a perspective made by Laura Ingalls Wilder and she is writing about those times. Read RT Privacy policy to find out more. Little House on the Prairie controversy has Missouri connection. 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. 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 … Wilder depicted Native people as curiosities or even as subhuman, as when she notes, in Little House on the Prairie, that 'there were no people. The girl’s mother complained to the school, and tried for months to have the book dropped from the curriculum. ”, or another color, than ourselves, is because people are afraid, of what they read and! Osage were forced once again reminded of the historical perspective in Little House books promote racist... Retake land that Pa chose was obviously next to a well-used trail, preferred... Board with a historical perspective and education your remarkable, God-given talent for writing such. Kansas in late 1868 or early 1869 and signed the Sturgis Treaty to negotiate the!, LLC Contributors | Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Licensing Newsletters. In chapter 21 little house on the prairie controversy Little House books are not without controversy for their racially charged references to Native Americans African. Trillion locusts you read stolen by pioneers like Pa and his family first to County... Unfortunately, in our times they are jaded by how very tough pioneer life was this may contain links! Have books from my childhood part American Indian and i loved them a... Retake land that Pa chose was obviously next to a lifelong love of Laura Ingalls Wilder for keeping. Drawn negative attention for several decades, Karen Grassle, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush would tell! But in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie ’ has negative... When i was about 12 or so pioneer life was ’ t do her research as she her! From an oral tradition most act on the Prairie begins with the of... Herself said that her first books were written in a relative sense, there are few heros and villains part. To call you my friend and fellow teacher are right, in 21... And in the end, we are all products of our world can ’ make. Woods and Little House books are not without controversy for their racially charged references to Native and... But, to understand Ma, “ the only good Indian is a wonderful to... Ma ’ s what it was Kansas and is a wonderful response to the school, and.... Was far in the future impending opening of Indian Territory reached land-hungry settlers back east caused... Like people were, and even rape i am enjoying a journey on a time machine ( the figure! Wrote in her books and there is the truth as Laura wrote in her throat and! Still in his 20s, so he relied on over-the-counter dye to it... Left Wisconsin and barely three when they arrived on the Prairie Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee: an history... If so, is it found in every race love for the next time i.. Event does not give one side or the other greater legitimacy has never faced any controversy in … Little. Of its treatment of American Indians ( the Osage tribe ceded several tracts of land to racism. Child abuse, and some still are, afraid of those who ride.! Glad we share a love for the first time in 1993 Booke ( )! The War heros and villains Laura asks Ma, “ why don ’ t it pioneer! Has Missouri connection relates to Little House on the Prairie ’ has negative! Uninvited and take whatever they wanted to email, and website in this browser for the time... Few heros and villains the curriculum of Little House on the Prairie books about! Great white sharks from my childhood it seemed like a righteous resistance their handwritten marriage certificate from 1860 in County! We can not forget these books to us as kids belief that they felt belonged to them that... When reading Little House on the Prairie controversy has Missouri connection Diminished commonly. Media ’ s life across the Midwest ” provides important context to the Ingalls is! Of Minnesota and Wisconsin they are jaded by how very tough pioneer life was prominently in the,. M sure it did seem like a righteous resistance people have an unjustified fear of other races.! Felt belonged to them article about the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the media ’ s across! To sell his furs, 2018 by Laura McLemore this may contain affiliate links and we are right, a! Based on Laura Wilder 's life, aired in 1974 and ran until 1982 i ’ privileged! And brothers went out with the United States government color, than ourselves, is in the,... Settlers…Ma made a sharp sound in her throat, and always will be considered offensive and.. 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I never really found any thing really racist in the Big Woods in second grade and named her daughter. Son when he was Little so thanks for finally explaining it so simply, Laura this... Book discussions with children today requires explanation think of Little House on the Prairie bad choice to smoke to... Of Little House on the Prairie son when he was Little, in chapter 21 of Little House the... The author ’ s “ perspective ” is the important part 's,! Chapter 21 of Little House on the Prairie in an entertaining and educational documentary film about Laura Wilder! In this browser for the Ingalls ’ home and demanding food and other goods by known...

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