Culture

Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from award

Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from award”

Laura Ingalls Wilder has always been a prominent author in children's literature thanks to her well-known and -loved series Little House on the Prairie, but conflict has arisen in association with her books' offensive depiction of Native Americans.

The board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) voted unanimously to change the name to the Children's Literature Legacy Award.

In its decision to remove Wilder's name from the award, the library association had cited "anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments in her work" when it announced the review of Wilder's award in February.

At issue is the fact that those stories sometimes reflected the era's prevailing attitudes about blacks and Native Americans, particularly the hatred and fear between settlers and natives.

The white clapboard farmhouse where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote numerous books in her Little House on the Prairie novels still stands in Mansfield, Mo. "Only Indians lived there", Wilder wrote.

The books inspired the hugely popular 1974-1983 television series Little House on the Prairie starring Melissa Gilbert.

The book includes multiple statements from characters saying, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian".

While her father, as portrayed in the books, takes a more nuanced approach to Native Americans in some places, he also described one Indian as "no common trash" because "that was French he spoke". Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder's books, talking about them, or making them available to children.

"We believe it is important to recognize Wilder's contributions to literacy, libraries, and culture, even as her works continue to spark discussion and scholarly debate", the LIWLRA continued.

Caroline Fraser, author of "Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder", said that children should still read the Wilder books, despite the racial insensitivity.

"Each generation revises the literary canon".

"While the answer to racism is not to impose purity retroactively or to disappear titles from shelves, no 8-year-old Dakota child should have to listen to an uncritical reading of Little House on the Prairie". Fraser stated that Wilder's work "vividly, unforgettably ... still tells truths about white settlement, homesteading and the violent appropriation of Indian land and culture".



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