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Can We Talk About the Controversy of Little House on the Prairie. - Page 3

post #41 of 221
IMO these part of LHOTP were signs of the times and make for a great "jumping off point" for wonderful, necessary conversation.
post #42 of 221
I wouldn't ban any books at my house, but I wouldn't buy these. Only because when I had them as a kid, I thought they were the most boring books ever. : So, it's not something I'd actively go out and purchase for kids.

But, I might be the odd one out. I know ALL my friends loved those books when I was a kid. Just wasn't my thing, I guess.
post #43 of 221
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Only because when I had them as a kid, I thought they were the most boring books ever.
post #44 of 221
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Originally Posted by KermitMissesJim View Post
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.
My brothers are First Nation Americans and I don't remember ever reading those books as a child. I wonder what my brother's think. My eldest brother is a voracious reader I should ask him. Have you read the book Tisha? It was a story about a teacher in Alaska and dealt a lot with the race issue. I remember enjoying that book but it made me sad. As an adult thinking about learning this issue as a 6 year old I don't know if it is a good or bad thing. We were always polarized to the issue because of my family so I heard about it a lot.
post #45 of 221
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My brothers are First Nation Americans and I don't remember ever reading those books as a child. I wonder what my brother's think. My eldest brother is a voracious reader I should ask him. Have you read the book Tisha? It was a story about a teacher in Alaska and dealt a lot with the race issue. I remember enjoying that book but it made me sad. As an adult thinking about learning this issue as a 6 year old I don't know if it is a good or bad thing. We were always polarized to the issue because of my family so I heard about it a lot.
I haven't; thank you for the recommendation. My hometown is embroiled in native lawsuits and there is so much hate on both sides; neutrality became my mode of defense. I can still see both sides of the issue, and I cannot figure out how to resolve it fairly. I walked away from all of it when I moved away for college, though it's all still going on. Now that I'm a mother, I am revisiting it, with regards to teaching my children.
post #46 of 221
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Originally Posted by karina5 View Post
There is a lot more going on...I find these stories highly enjoyable.
Regardless of the what happens in the story, the whole racism thing is just a big downer for me, yk? I can't find them enjoyable because the racism kind of ruins it for me.

I also wonder how enjoyable I would be able to find it if I were a NA child. My guess is not so much.
post #47 of 221
What a timely discussion. I recently had the same dilemma regarding reading the stories to my 5-year-old DS. I enjoyed the books as a child but as an adult I see the books (or some parts) differently.
post #48 of 221
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Originally Posted by eclipse View Post
I don't know - I remember reading them at about 8 years old and being horrified by the racism I was reading. It led to lots of talks with my mom about it. Perhaps since my mom had already talked to me about how my Gpa was 1/2 native but denied that half of his culture because he didn't want t dela with racism, etc, I "got" it more than other kids would. I don't think I would let my 6 year old read them on his own, but I think I would read them with him and discuss them.
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Originally Posted by thismama View Post
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 have no memory of racism in that series. I was a bit older.. about 9 or 10 when I read the series. But I don't remember racism. If they were afraid of N/A in the story I would have just assumed it was because they lived in a time when the Natives and the settlers feared each other.
post #49 of 221
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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.
:

Its been like 30 years since I have read these books. In fact, I started a mental list of books I would like to get my kids.
post #50 of 221
Hmm.

Those were my favorite books as a small child.

I am of Native American heritage (full disclosure: I myself am only 1/8 NA, but my maternal grandmother's family is heavily involved in "traditional" NA life, and the great grandmother I'm named after was full NA). I'm not bothered by the "racism" in them in the least. It's historical fictional perspective. Part and parcel of really almost all fiction, children or adult's.
post #51 of 221
I am Native American and I read those books to my 3yo. I think it's entirely appropriate and an excellent jumping off point to discuss prejudice and racism with her (on her level).

Even at her age she's already witnessed racism (not towards her or I, but her grandfather) so honestly I don't think we have the privilege (oh no not that word) NOT to find ways to address this stuff and the LHOTP books seem like a nice 'safe' way.
post #52 of 221
i'm not sure if i ever read the books as a child and certainly haven't as an adult so i really can't speak too much to the racism. i was a really big fan of the teevee show, though. what i really wanted to post about was the fear of natives that "settlers" had.

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Originally Posted by karina5 View Post
Truly, she talked of being fearful, and either said outright or implied about the “savagery” and such of the “Indians.”
there was a lot of bloodshed in that time period and a lot of gruesomeness on both sides. this discussion sparked my memory of the most amazing memoir that i read online one night when dd1 was a baby. it was the story of a white boy who had been kidnapped by natives (can't remember the tribe) in SW Virginia and taken to Ohio where he was adopted by the tribe and a particular family in the tribe. it was a riveting account and i stayed up far too late reading it. the natives did scalp and kill his brother and i think another person, but they took him and a neighbor woman to ohio. he had a chance (maybe two) to be taken by a white (french?) Indian Agent go back to Viriginia to his mama, but he had become involved in and loved by his Native American family and in turn he loved them and the Native way of life. the agents were often a disreputable lot and he couldn't be sure they wouldn't beat him and treat him worse and not take him to his mom and he opted to stay with the tribe. he eventually grew up in the tribe and did make his way back to find his mom, but he really grew up as a Native American. it was just such a fascinating account because it had great respect for both sides, but you could see how scary it could be for both sides. i had it bookmarked many computers ago, but if i can google around and find it again i'll post here. it was really book-length with many chapters, but i found it fascinating.

anyway, i guess my point was that if all the problem in the book was with being afraid of Native Americans then i'm sure they were. it would be unrealistic if they weren't.

i'll see if i can dig up that memoir if anybody is interested...
post #53 of 221
To the OP question....yes I think kids should read the books. It's a learning experience about how "white" people though of and treated the "indians."

We're listening to the audio books.
post #54 of 221
I'm familiar with that story, Beanma. It's about the Draper family. There's also an account of the mother of the two boys, Mary Ingles Draper, called 'Follow the River'.

But even that story has its problems, partially because it's been preserved primarily by the Draper family (there's an outdoor theater production near Blacksburg, VA called "The Long Way Home" that tells the story, albeit from Mary's point of view primarily). I was one of the people who played Mary the summer of my senior year at Tech, and still have my original binder of notes (that has a list of all the books,ect, that were written about the story). But I'll make no bones about the fact that the native americans are not even truly given a voice either in the play or the books, and like most of those stories are EXTREMELY biased.

I don't see a problem with introducing these stories, as long as one is careful to educate one's children that they are largely one-sided. We have lots of records and preserved stories from the settlers (though I suppose you could call them tresspassers from another point of view) available, but not so many from the native people's point of view.

I'm not uncomfortable talking about racism with my kids though. Though it's a good reminder that I should make more of an effort to talk about things like this with my kids, who aren't exposed to NA culture or people very often.
post #55 of 221
I'm a little taken aback by how many wouldn't read the LH books to their kids, and I wonder how many mamas have read them recently?

I just finished reading the whole series to my son. There is a huge difference between a book in which the narrative voice is racist and one in which racism is expressed by the characters. The narrative voice in the LH books (adult Laura) is not racist imo. She does not refer to Indians as savages or suggest that they are evil or that they deserve to have their land taken from them. In fact, the sadness of the NA leaving their land is referred to explicitly. Other characters (namely Ma and a few different settlers) express fear and hatred of NA. As pp have noted, Pa is respectful toward them.

I completely agree that reading the LH books needs to go hand in hand with a discussion about why some people used to feel that way, why they thought it was ok to settle NA land, etc. etc. That kind of thing has been discussed in many LH threads.

In terms of racism, the LH books stand in huge contrast to another book that, like LH, was written during the 1930's and was set in the 1860's. Gone With the Wind. I recently picked up a copy of this book after not having read since I was 12. Unlike Ingalls, Margaret Mitchell's narrative voice is hugely racist. The narration describes "happy darkies" and is replete with depictions of blacks grinning, eating watermelon, and living a contented plantation life. It's truly awful. And to me, that's what a racist narrative looks like. Not the LH books.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that because the narration of GWTW is so blatant, racism doesn't exist in the LH books. I'm saying that one was written with racist intent, from a racist pov, and one was not. Which makes a big difference, to me.

(By the way, Tisha is a really good book).
post #56 of 221
Completely OT.....but can someone explain how Mary went blind? It says she had scarlet fever and the fever settled in her eyes. Is blindness a complication of scarlet fever?
post #57 of 221
We don't have the luxury of sheltering our kids from racism, so I would prefer to read the books amid discussion.

I don't think we can easily identify how much racism we absorbed as children, from whatever source. If you think that LHOTP is a light, enjoyable read that shouldn't lead to a harder discussion, then maybe you absorbed a little more than you realize. Raising children to be aware of racism and the sources of racism *is* work.
post #58 of 221
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Originally Posted by Kleine Hexe View Post
Completely OT.....but can someone explain how Mary went blind? It says she had scarlet fever and the fever settled in her eyes. Is blindness a complication of scarlet fever?
Could have been any number of things. I think I've read some conjecture that perhaps she also had meningitis. I don't think scarlet fever normally causes blindness. Despite its alarming name I think it's a fairly mild childhood illness?
post #59 of 221
Scarlet fever is Strep A...is supposed to be treated with penicillin.

I've read that she had that, also the measles, and one of her sisters called it a stroke.
post #60 of 221
I've read the series with my older dd and am starting it with my 6 yo. I think they are really enjoyable books, and a great way to stimulate discussion about racism. Ma's racist viewpoints(or much worse) were shared by the majority of white people at the time. It has shaped the history of this country and I think it deserves frank, honest discussion with our kids. My kids are pretty horrified by Ma's racism.

My own mother was somewhat racist, and I remember being quite horrified when she would let that side of her slip out. To her credit, at least she knew she was racist, she knew it was wrong, and she did try to not pass it on to her kids. But we all called her on it when it showed.
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