So, once I’m done with this thesis, I want to pursue one of my original thesis ideas, which was an evaluation of Hawaiians in children’s literature, picking apart characters and ideas which exist, and pointing out all the stereotypes, misconceptions, inaccuracies, and searching desperately for those works of literature for children which contain none of these things.
There is a blog which exists for just this same thing, but for American Indians, called “American Indians in Children’s Literature: Critical perspectives of indigenous peoples in children’s books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society-at-large” and is written by Debbie Reese, a member of the Nambe Pueblo Tribe in New Mexico and a professor in UIUC’s American Indian Studies Program. Her post is updated fairly regularly, and she provides in-depth analysis of each work to back up her opinions. She reviews children’s and YA, ranging from Little House on the Prairie (with its obvious innaccuracies) to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (one of my favorites, even though my opinion is prejudice because I LOVE Sherman Alexie and loved him before he won the National Book Award. He is the only poet I can actually sit down and read his stuff and understand what he’s trying to convey.) Recently, she had to defend her blog against critcisms of more or less picking on an author, and I thought that her bolded reply was quite appropriate, encompassing all the things I hope to someday:
This blog exists to provide my perspective on the words others write. My responsibility, as I see it, is not to any author, but to what he or she writes, and, to the readers of that author’s words. My goal is not to beat up on an author, though it will feel that way to the author. My goal is to educate the author, the publisher, the reviewer, the teacher, parent, and librarian so that the entire field of children’s books that have images of American Indians moves from one that is fraught with error to one that is does an accurate job of presenting who we are.
The full text of the blog entry can be found here.
I feel that so many inacurate presenteations are made of Hawaiians in the media that it feels like a difficult task of figuring out where to begin. I do know, though, that I will probably have quite a bit of material once I get going.
But, alas, I must finish this project first…