The Depiction of Native Americans within Literature
Learn more about: The depiction of Native American Characters
An important factor of the novel is that the Native American characters are written fairly and are not depicted in a stereotypical manner. Works of fiction involving indigenous people have often been home to caricatures of the people, instead of a depiction that is well-researched and human. This article provides a look at how many different books targeted at a younger audience depict Native Americans. There is a comprehensive list of books that have troublesome characters and a list of books that contain native characters who are written in a respectable manner.The lists included within this article will help people understand how to differentiate between poorly written Native American characters and those that manage to respect indigenous people. It might be difficult for people to distinguish which stories would be damaging, so any help from a reliable source, like the American Indian Library Association, is welcome.
Caldwell-Wood, N., & Mitten, L. A. (1991).””I” is not for Indian: The Portrayal of Native Americans in Books for Young People.” American Indian Library Association.
Learn more about: The effect that Native-focused laws had on Native American literature
The background event that incites the plot of the novel is the creation of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. With the passing of this bill, many Native American tribes, like the Choctaw in the book, were forced to leave their homeland and move to a new territory. This article focuses on that specific law and others that negatively affected Native Americans, all while; analyzing native literature and how the different laws impacted the storytelling of these people. The primary focus of the article is on Mountain Windsong: A Novel of the Trail of Tears by Robert Conley, and Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears by Diane Glancy. These two novels weave the topic of indigenous peoples’ rights with the standard fiction plots, like a love story. The author of the article, Sabine N. Meyer, uses these two examples to show how literature with indigenous characters has been affected by the laws passed that affect indigenous populations.
Meyer, Sabine N. “From Federal Indian Law to Indigenous Rights: Legal Discourse and the Contemporary Native American Novel on the Indian Removal.” Law and Literature, vol. 29, no. 2, 2017, pp. 269–290. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/1535685X.2016.1246902.
The Effects of Native American Literature
Learn more about: Indigenous characters in children’s literature and their effects.
The way that a group of people are written about will have an impact on how readers may see that group of people. In this article, examples of children’s literature that features Native American characters are discussed based on how the characters are written and the effect that their depiction could have on society. There are many examples of poorly written native characters in children’s literature and the impact that can have on society is detrimental, as children have no prior knowledge, so if the first depiction of a Native American person they see is one that is racist or stereotypical, then that will be their base idea for how native people are in reality.The main story brought up in this article is the well known series of books, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which contains many mentions of Native Americans that rely on stereotypes. The author of the article, Debbie Reese, points out the uses of stereotypes within these books and how that becomes an obstacle for when people try to understand those who are different from themselves.
Reese, D. (2008). “Indigenizing children’s literature.” Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 4(2), 59-72.
Learn more about: The effects of teaching literature that features Native American characters.
Oftentimes schools in the United States do not have a focus on teaching literature depicting Native American characters. This, along with a lack of representation in history books, leads to a system in which people are not as understanding of the problems faced in the Native American communities. In this article, researchers decided to implement a curriculum containing Native American-centric literature in an English class and interviewed the students to compile results. The students were able to come to a better understanding of societal dynamics and learned how they could treat their own classmates better. The curriculum developed by the researchers provided more attention to the matters of the Native American society, opening students’ eyes up to the problems that other communities within the United States face. Exposing people to those of other cultures will help people remain open minded and less judgmental about those who they do not know.
Metzger, Kenan, et al. “Embracing Intercultural Diversification: Teaching Young Adult Literature with Native American Themes.” The English Journal, vol. 102, no. 5, 2013, pp. 57–62., www.jstor.org/stable/24484093. Accessed 14 2020.
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