Monday, April 7, 2014

Images of Indians in Children's Books is no longer maintained as a distinct site.

I continue to write about those images at American Indians in Children's Literature. See, specifically, "The Foul Among the Good." 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another pic of Howdy Doody's Indian princess

Here's another pic of Howdy Doody's Indian princess.

The Museum of the Moving Image has more info.

Howdy Doody's Indian princess puppet

I found this on an antique toy website. The sales blurb reads:

Description: This is a great television item from the 1950's. A Howdy Doody Princess SummerFallWinterSpring Marionette in very good condition. Head is excellent, clothes are very good, strings and string board are intact. A great addition to any early television personality collector. Makes a great wall hanging item.

The sale price? $199.00.

Howdy Doody and the Princess

Howdy Doody and the Princess, published in 1952. Written by Edward Kean, illustrated by Art Seiden.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'M AN INDIAN TODAY - Little Golden Book

I'm an Indian Today is a Little Golden Book, published in 1961. It is out of print. Author was Kathryn Hitte, illustrator was William Dugan.

One page after another, it is a perfect example of stereotyping and how a white child played/plays Indian.

Considering the publication year, it was something someone in my age group (50-60) would have been able to buy.

Maybe this guy, in this costume, read that book when he was a kid... This photo is from a costume site.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Indians in Richard Scarry ABC

Here's some more of Richard Scarry's Indians. These images are from his Find Your ABC's, published in 1973. (Thanks, Heidi, for sending them.) I wrote about his work a few days ago on my primary blog. Click here to see that post. There's a few more images on this site, posted on March 7th, 2009.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Richard Scarry's books had a lot of stereotypes in them. I said "had" because Scarry (or his estate) has been keeping up with the times. I'm not sure, though, if this particular book has been updated...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Images of Indians in Comic Books

Wow! A year has past and not a single post here! It isn't that there aren't images to post.... its lack of time.

This is a hat tip to Paris Chandler, a student in "Intro to American Indian Studies" --- a class I teach at the University of Illinois. Paris started exploring the image of Indians in comic books. Below are the pics he shared in class, and here's where he found them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


 Kym Johnson Rutledge (a student in Nebraska) wrote to me about Chief Hawah's Book of Native American Indians, illustrated by Chris Brown. It's published in the UK, and it is suggests that those involved in its creation, publication, and distribution haven't a clue about who American Indians are... Or maybe don't care? Or maybe care more about the bottom line (profit) than they do about accuracy in books for children?

Kim wrote a letter to the publisher, which you can read here.

Below is one illustration from the book:

Throughout, the illustrations capture the stereotypical imagery that portrays American Indians as barbaric, primitive, pagans.

This is one of those books that never should have made it past first base.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reenactments/Plays of First Thanksgiving

This is from Anne Rockwell's book Thanksgiving Day. The children in this classroom are making headdresses with construction paper. And, they're using paperbags to make an Indian shirt. This is commonly done, but contributes to the stereotypical idea that all Indians wore/wear the same clothes: fringed buckskin.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Babar's World Tour

In class last week, we discussed Herbert Kohl's book, Shall We Burn Babar? In prep for it, I stopped in the local library to grab copies of Babar books. I found one I hadn't seen before... It is titled Babar's World Tour, published in 2005 by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

"World tour," I thought to myself. What did dear old Babar see?

In the first pages, Babar and his family visit Italy, Germany, Russia, India, Japan, Thailand... where they eat new foods, speak phrases in Italian, etc. At one point, Isabelle notes difference in language and asks "What's wrong with our words?" Celeste explains that "People in different places say things differently. They do things differently, too. They build different kinds of buildings." Note the reference to people, of the present day.

Now, I call your attention to the image I've included with this post. Note, specifically, the text, which I've included below (bold text is mine):

When everyone was rested, they went to Angkor in Cambodia, the ancient city of the Khmers. In Mexico, they climbed a pyramid built by the Aztecs. In both places, the original settlers were gone but tourists abounded.

"Will everyone move out of Celesteville one day, too?" Pom asked.

"Never," said Babar. "But apart from us, it happens a lot, as you'll see."

The "as you'll see" refers to the places they visit next, which are "the cliff houses of the Anasazi in the high desert of the American Southwest, "the Inca Trail, on the same stones that the Incas had walked..." and "... to the remains of the city of Machu Picchu hidden in the Andes Mountains."

How nice for the Babar family and other tourists, that the "original settlers" were gone! How nice that they had, presumably, moved out, leaving these wonderful places for the tourists! And how good it is of Babar to assure Pom that the inhabitants of Celesteville will never move out of Celesteville!

Reviewers of the book failed to note these passages and the messages they impart to the reader. School Library Journal's reviewer finds it lacking because it doesn't have the same adventure and excitement in Jean de Brunhoff's Travels of Babar (which has highly problematic illustrations of "cannibals"). Perhaps if they'd actually come across "savages" (aka "original settlers) she might have given it a favorable review.

The review in Booklist is more favorable: "Though children listening to the story will get only a glimpse or two of each country before moving on to the next, this colorful picture book provides an inkling of the diversity of places and cultures in the world. A pleasant excursion, recommended especially for those who already know and love Babar and his family."

Perhaps, but I wonder about children of all those "original settlers"?!

There is a great deal wrong with this book. It is very useful for a high school or college classroom, but as a read-aloud for young children? No.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lewis and Clark? Sacagawea?

Knowing that some tribes publish their own books, can any of you tell me about a children's book (tribal or small press) that is a Native perspective on Lewis and Clark? Or, Sacagawea?

I've ordered a copy of The Salish People and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and I know about Joseph Bruchac's Sacagawea...

What else is out there?

There's GOT to be more than the 214 children's books published between 2000 and 2005... Based on reviews I'm reading of them, they're pretty standard-fare. In other words, biased against Native people...

I appreciate your help in locating these items. Please write to me directly at, or using the comment option (below).


Friday, June 8, 2007

Curious George Learns the Alphabet

On the page for the letter "t"

The text reads:

"The small t is a tomahawk."

"George had a toy tomahawk. It was a tiny one. He took it along when he played Indian. He also had a tepee--an Indian tent."

What's wrong with this page?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

IMPORTANT: As of this writing, I am unable to locate a research document that lists or otherwise documents a "scalp belt" as an artifact made or used by a Native person or Native tribe. I have found many references to it in works of fiction by authors who are not Native. It appears, for example, in Zane Gray novels (a reader of the blog wrote to me with that information).

This is the illustration of the "scalp belt" in the 1973 edition of Caddie Woodlawn, with illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman. It is on page 152. The illustration from the older edition, with Seredy's illustrations, shows Indian John and Caddie and the "scalp belt" (see May 9th, below).

This is a close-up of the belt itself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Above is a scan of page 147 of the 1969 printing of Caddie Woodlawn. The illustrations are by Kate Seredy.

This illustration is not in the later edition of the book in which illustrations are by Trina Schart Hyman.

Below is a scan of just the scalp belt. On page 150 is a description of it:

"It was a simple buckskin belt ornamented with colored beads, and from it hung three long tails of black hair, each with a bit of shriveled skin at the end."

Monday, May 7, 2007

This is a "scalp belt" from Carol Ryrie Brink's book Caddie Woodlawn. The book won the Newberry Medal in 1935. See more discussion of the "scalp belt" at my blog American Indians in Children's Literature. Look specifically at the entry dated May 6, 2007.

Friday, April 27, 2007

PETER PAN AND WENDY- Little Golden Book

These illustrations appear in Peter Pan and Wendy, a "Little Golden Book" published in 1952.

Can you guess what sound the characters shown here are making?

This is an illustration done by the Walt Disney Studio. It appears in Peter Pan and Wendy, "A Golden Book" published in 1952.

Throughout the Disney film and the books, Natives are called "red Indians." Can you guess what sound the characters shown here are making?

Friday, April 13, 2007


This is Grace, from Hoffman's Amazing Grace.

The headdress, face paint, braids. And in this case, another way of signifying Indian... Crossed legs (commonly called, in elementary and preschool classrooms, "sitting Indian style") and arms crossed and held high. Why held that way?!

And the text... "Hiawatha, sitting by the shining Big-Sea Water..."

Just sad all around, the messes made with real and imagined Native culture.
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George, in a GEORGE AND MARTHA picture book

This is George and Martha, the much-loved hippos featured in James Marshall's books.

Feathered headdress, hatchet, and... what? A breechclout? Loincloth? No moccasins. Hmmm... Sort of like UIUC's now-discontinued "Chief Illiniwek."

Note George's left arm (do hippos have arms?!). Waving hello to Martha? Or saying "How" in that gesture too much of America thinks is the way Indians say 'Hello'.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The 2004 HarperCollins edition of Little House on the Prairie is marketed as a "FULL-COLOR COLLECTOR'S EDITION."

Shown here is page 139. These Indians have entered Laura's house, unbidden.

The text describes them on page 137 with these passages:

"The naked wild men stood by the fireplace."

"Laura ran toward Ma, but just as she reached the hearth she smelled a horribly bad smell and she looked up at the Indians."

And, on page 138:

"Around their waists each of the Indians wore a leather thong, and the furry skin of a small animal hung down in front. The fur was striped black and white, and now Laura knew what made that smell. The skins were fresh skunk skins."

Based on the setting and time period, and specific references in the text, I think these two Indian men are Osage. Below is something to think about, as you look at this illustration and read the accompanying passages...

"A horribly bad smell"

Laura realizes the smell is from the skunk skins. Apparently, these men are unskilled hunters. They've killed skunks, and skinned them. In that process, they ruptured the glands that hold the pungent skunk odor. But they are, apparently, immune to that odor. They seem not to notice it, or perhaps they don't care. Either way, Wilder deftly and powerfully constructs Indian people as barbaric, savage, primitive. It is an inaccurate and inappropriate representation, in text and illustration.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Danny and the Dinosaur

Here we have a page from a very popular children's easy reader, Danny and the Dinosaur, by Syd Hoff. At this point in the story, Danny is inside a museum, which I presume to be a Natural History Museum, where

He sees Indians.
He sees bears.
He sees Eskimos.

American Indians are often placed in Natural History Museums, set amongst the animals, which suggests our oneness with nature??? Or with the dinosaurs, which suggests our extinctness???

"Imitating Indians" in Sendak's ALLIGATORS ALL AROUND

Shown here is a page from Maurice Sendak's alphabet book, Alligators All Around, reprinted in 1991 by HarperTrophy. These 'gators sport different headdresses. The little fellow must be smoking a "peace pipe" but it looks more like a sax to me. The one with all his sharp teeth showing has a tomahawk. Problems abound with this! Objectifying, dehumanizing. From what I've seen, most alphabet books are staying clear of this practice, but these older volumes are still in wide circulation. There is, for example, a lesson plan on the ReadWriteThink pages (cosponsored by the National Council for Teachers of English and the International Reading Association) that uses this book to teach kids alliteration. I wonder what teachers do when they get to this page? Breeze on through? Or use it as a teachable moment?

This is Grizzly Bob, from the popular Berenstein Bears series. This illustration is from Berenstein Bears go to Camp. Grizzly Bob is shown in a large feathered headdress, arms outstretched as he regales the cubs with a story. Not sure what that is supposed to be in his left paw. His attire suggests buckskin, plains style clothing, but the designs on them? Not sure what to make of that!


Here is Clifford, the Big Red Dog, from Norman Bridwell's Clifford's Halloween. The text reads "An Indian?" Clifford is shown in a feathered headdress of multi-colored feathers. In his mouth is what might be a "peace pipe" and he wears a white sheet, presumably meant to be a robe of some sort. Note, too, the "face paint" and the way his eyes and eyebrows are drawn. And the raised paw.... Is he saying "How?"