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Can We Talk About the Controversy of Little House on the Prairie. - Page 2

post #21 of 221
This conversation makes me want to dig my books out again.
post #22 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by karina5 View Post
I say yes. Laura wrote from *her* viewpoint, and as flawed as we may find it, that was the common thought toward Native Americans in that time of history. I would use that as a learning and discussion tool w/ my kids, and am hoping that DS will have interest in reading these books someday, so we can talk about this together.
I agree. I read Little House on the Prairie to my dd when she was 5 or so and it lead to many discussions about Native Americans and pioneers. We're currently reading "Indian Captive" by Lois Lenski that tells the other side of the story. My dd was ready to read and discuss books like these. Other kids may or may not be at this age (dd is 6 now). It's a personal call, I guess.

peace, Beth
post #23 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovingmommyhood View Post
This conversation makes me want to dig my books out again.
I still read through them from time to time.
post #24 of 221
The thread title intrigued me SO much, as I wondered what controversy there was over these books.

Ahh. Okay! Got it!

So, I read those books as a kid, and thought they were great, really interesting.
Never talked about them with parents or anyone else, and honestly, don't remember her attitude and opinions about Native Americans.

It truly did not affect how I felt/feel about Native Americans.

Now, my dad was pretty racist, and as a little sponge of a child, I absorbed what he said (even if I didn't agree) and have to sometimes stop myself, as an adult, from mirroring some of the things he said. Interestingly, as a child, I was SO against what he said...I guess because it was blatant, so I had something to rail against, and now it is little whispers of thought that are harder to really "see"

(Oy, I'm rambling again!)

But he never had a bad word to say about Native Americans. So I didn't absorb anything from him. Then, as an adult, I took a literature class where we read some Native American fiction and we had a Native American woman in the class to further illustrate things and as I have grown over the years, I have NOTHING but respect and awe for Native Americans (I'm also a bit sad and pissed at how _______ they have been treated over the years).

Long story short: I read these books, had NO discussion about them, and ultimately have only positive feelings towards Native Americans. So, I don't think that books necessarily have as much power as we sometimes think they do, but the attitudes of our PARENTS PEERS and ELDERS really will influence us, even in ways we don't like.

Oh, and I was a VORACIOUS reader. Still am!
post #25 of 221
Quote:
Yep. But what I'm saying is that the storybook is part of a whole package of cultural messages children get about race, and Aboriginal people in particular. Unless the parents have done some solid, intensive ground work, and then talk about the story with their children in a particular, critical way, focusing on the racism, then I think children can miss it. ITA with what 80 says about children identifying with Laura Ingalls and with the Ingalls family in general.

I guess I just don't trust that parents have necessarily done that work with their children in the way it needs to be done to contextualize the messages in these books. How many of us have done that work? Honestly? I have not yet.
I just...cannot process that so much has to go into simply reading an enjoyable story with my kids. Read, ask questions, discuss.
post #26 of 221
I don't think it's necessarily a good sign of understanding to have only good feelings toward a large, diverse, and politically complex groups as Native Americans. : I can think of at least a few of them that I really don't like.

And I agree with thismama that I'd rather have my kids read my copy of "Delta of Venus" than "LHOTP." At least THAT would be guaranteed to jump-start an interesting and potentially uncomfortablee convo...

whereas the racism in LHOTP is way, way too easily palatable. Like plum jam from Ma's cupboard.
post #27 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by KermitMissesJim View Post
I just...cannot process that so much has to go into simply reading an enjoyable story with my kids. Read, ask questions, discuss.
:
post #28 of 221
By the way, I think parents who shield their children from different eras and unfortunate historical perspectives do a great disservice to their children. We don't learn from something we haven't studied.
post #29 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by KermitMissesJim View Post
I read those books over and over, and it's Ma who blatantly speaks against the Indians, then Pa counters with examples of their helpfulness, and we get to hear what Laura is thinking. They seem to give her a shiver of fear, but she wants to adopt the papoose she sees, and the family all acknowledge that they are alive because of the Indian who spoke French (can't remember his name) talking the tribes down from slaying all the settlers.

There are many things in the books that open up good discussions (the family use shaming and whipping as disciplinary methods, for starters) and I like any book that starts a conversation.
: The fact that there are at least three different perspectives offered made it clear to me, as a child of 5 or 6, that they were people's individual opinions and not "factual". I would think that any child that is used to the discussion of ideas, as opposed to just being "told the truth", would do the same.

I think that Laura's portrayal of the different viewpoints in her family without a lot of judgement is one of the things that makes the books so good. As a child, I could put myself in Laura's shoes, and definitely shared her bias towards Pa's worldview. As an adult woman with children, I have A LOT more sympathy with Ma (although she is a bigot). Just imagining what it would have been like to live in those settings, with a very limited education about other cultures and a husband who was apt to make you pick up and start all over because of the latest rumor he heard, makes me understand her much better.
post #30 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by KermitMissesJim View Post
I just...cannot process that so much has to go into simply reading an enjoyable story with my kids. Read, ask questions, discuss.
If I were a Native mama, I wonder whether it'd even be an option to just casually throw LHOTP at my kids and have a wait-and-see approach about it.

I guess if I wouldn't do that if those were MY kids' racial and cultural backgrounds being maligned, then maybe I oughtn't be so nonchalant myself. yk?
post #31 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by KermitMissesJim View Post
I just...cannot process that so much has to go into simply reading an enjoyable story with my kids. Read, ask questions, discuss.
What is enjoyable about racist literature, though? I don't really see this stuff as something that I'd read for fun, yk?
post #32 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeBeans View Post
By the way, I think parents who shield their children from different eras and unfortunate historical perspectives do a great disservice to their children. We don't learn from something we haven't studied.
LHOTP isn't really a historical document, anyway. Everyone knows it's highly fictionalized anyway, and few people regard it with caution, as something to "study." It's viewed as perfectly wholesome entertainment to swallow whole.

All I'm saying is that LHOTP ain't the place to start if you're looking for anything resembling an accurate historical perspective.
post #33 of 221
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by littleaugustbaby View Post
What is enjoyable about racist literature, though? I don't really see this stuff as something that I'd read for fun, yk?
There is a lot more going on...I find these stories highly enjoyable.
post #34 of 221
The racism didn't bother me half as much as the philosophy in Farmer boy. They talk about whipping Almonzo to make him behave. They also say you can't whip a horse or you will beat it's spirit out.

The fact is that Racism against indians was very prominent at that time. They were seen as savages and as dangerous.

LHOTP and other books that deal with racism are the perfect window into that time and the perfect start of a conversation on why racism wasn't good then, and isn't good now.
post #35 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by mollykatsmom View Post
: The fact that there are at least three different perspectives offered made it clear to me, as a child of 5 or 6, that they were people's individual opinions and not "factual". I would think that any child that is used to the discussion of ideas, as opposed to just being "told the truth", would do the same.

I think that Laura's portrayal of the different viewpoints in her family without a lot of judgement is one of the things that makes the books so good. As a child, I could put myself in Laura's shoes, and definitely shared her bias towards Pa's worldview. As an adult woman with children, I have A LOT more sympathy with Ma (although she is a bigot). Just imagining what it would have been like to live in those settings, with a very limited education about other cultures and a husband who was apt to make you pick up and start all over because of the latest rumor he heard, makes me understand her much better.
ITA.

I don't think we should shield children from the past rather than learn from it.
post #36 of 221
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sappylady View Post
The racism didn't bother me half as much as the philosophy in Farmer boy. They talk about whipping Almonzo to make him behave. They also say you can't whip a horse or you will beat it's spirit out.

The fact is that Racism against indians was very prominent at that time. They were seen as savages and as dangerous.

LHOTP and other books that deal with racism are the perfect window into that time and the perfect start of a conversation on why racism wasn't good then, and isn't good now.
I agree with this, and I was also really bothered by the whippings in Farmer Boy. But that was also popular at that time, so yet another good thing to talk about w/ a child.
post #37 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
ITA.

I don't think we should shield children from the past rather than learn from it.
ITA, and we couldn't sheild them from the past even if we tried... not for long anyway
post #38 of 221
Dd loves the Little House books, and so did I as a kid. I think the fact that the Ingells family is portrayed sympathetically is a benefit. It shows that there were multiple points of view, and people had reasons to hold those views. The settlers at that time did, to a certain extent, have reason to be afraid of the NAs. And of course the NAs had plenty of reason to be afraid of the settlers. It tells a human side of the story. That's not to discount the fact that, from a larger social perspective, the settlers were wrong to settle on the NAs land. But the settlers were people, the NAs were people, and everything is so much more complex than people generally like to acknowledge.
post #39 of 221
Quote:
If I were a Native mama, I wonder whether it'd even be an option to just casually throw LHOTP at my kids and have a wait-and-see approach about it.

I guess if I wouldn't do that if those were MY kids' racial and cultural backgrounds being maligned, then maybe I oughtn't be so nonchalant myself. yk?
I see your point, but don't think I am doing what you say. I am anything but nonchalant about the natives of this country and their problems.
post #40 of 221
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightyferrettoes View Post
LHOTP isn't really a historical document, anyway. Everyone knows it's highly fictionalized anyway, and few people regard it with caution, as something to "study." It's viewed as perfectly wholesome entertainment to swallow whole.

All I'm saying is that LHOTP ain't the place to start if you're looking for anything resembling an accurate historical perspective.
Yes it's highly fictionalized, and it's written for children, but I think it's a pretty accurate historical perspective. Even if the specific events were fictionalized, the feelings expressed and "tone" are in fact based on the experience of the writer who was a product of her time. It's not a historical document, but it's a fairly good child's-level portrayal of how many of the settlers felt at that time.
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