[kids-lib] What to do about Indian Captive by Lois Lenski?

Martín Blasco MartinB at wccls.org
Thu Apr 28 14:49:50 PDT 2016

Hi Katie:

It was great to see you at the conference, and thank you so much for generating this kind of discussion.

Few thoughts. We cannot, as librarians, suppress old books with negative stereotypes (Powell’s still displays The Adventures of Tintin openly), they are part of the history of this continent and, consequently, these racist books written by Caucasian male writers must be preserved by those libraries which already have them. It’s like trying to suppress/ban Mein Kampf.  Can they be used for assignments? Well, it depends in what context. Comparative social studies are valid and important. Moreover, to learn from the past is crucial to understand our present and thus, plan for the future. Unfortunately, human beings don’t possess the memory that other animals have.
Including it in a reading list? Again, for what? Is it to show how awful, but common, were and are stereotypes? Now, if it is just in a reading list because it’s appropriate for certain ages, and without a context, no way. We can learned about a racist dominant culture, but we cannot and should not promote it.
I remember a friend who used to tell me that we should destroyed the colonial houses built over Incas’ ruins in Cuzco, Peru. Erase the past? Mmm. Erase history?

Someone complains? We work in public libraries and the First Amendment is crucial for their survival. We can just put the book aside (like many libraries do with books or magazines about cannabis or nude but artistic photograph books). Are we going to ban violence? Racism? Let’s educate ourselves, let’s open our minds. Let’s imagine, instead of banning or suppressing.
If we fall in an intolerant place, like the one described or told in, especially, old stereotypical books, we are going to be condemned. This happens during authoritarian governments: the suppression of history (or the people’s history, the one which is not official, which doesn’t represent the interests of those in power.) Let’s not forget how during the W. Bush’s years the federal government tried to get information about patrons who took “not the right” book. It reminded me of the dictatorship in my old country in the seventies and early 80s which was like living in the Dark Ages. From high school until I was 23 years old, I didn’t have access to books considered “subversive”, unless friends smuggled them. Same with the arts. Remember Rudolph Giuliani in NYC in the nineties and early 2000s? Another dictator suppressing “degenerate” art (remember that concept?)
If I love our constitution, it is because its first amendment. This idea of tolerance is what we should be exporting, instead of war.
Of course, this is my personal opinion.

Martín Blasco
Washington County, OR

From: Kids-lib [mailto:kids-lib-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Katie Anderson
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2016 1:51 PM
To: kids-lib at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [kids-lib] What to do about Indian Captive by Lois Lenski?

Hi! Many of you may have seen the following email from Debbie Reese about Indian Captive by Lois Lenski. Reese read Indian Captive and did research about the true story it’s based on. Reese learned that Indian Captive includes some inaccurate portrayals of what really happened and that the book, written in 1941, includes many of the negative, incorrect stereotypes of Native communities common during that time.

Indian Captive is an award winning, classic book so many libraries will probably keep it in their collection. After reading Debbie Reese’s thorough review<http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/04/lois-lenskis-indian-captive.html> and gaining a better understanding about the specific content that is culturally inappropriate and potentially hurtful to Native youth using our libraries…

What might we do, if anything, when…

•         A children/parents asks us to help them find and check out Indian Captive?

•         A student comes in asking for Indian Captive for a homework assignment?

•         We learn a teacher we know fairly well is using Indian Captive in their classroom or including it on a reading list?

•         Someone complains or fills out a reconsideration request form about Indian Captive?

Please remember to be respectful of each other’s ideas, we’re trying to help each other figure out how to deal with a sensitive issue.


Katie Anderson, Youth Services Consultant
Library Support and Development Services<http://www.oregon.gov/osl/LD/pages/index.aspx>
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528


From: alsc-l-request at lists.ala.org<mailto:alsc-l-request at lists.ala.org> [mailto:alsc-l-request at lists.ala.org] On Behalf Of Debbie Reese
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:08 AM
To: School Library Media & Network Communications <LM_NET at listserv.syr.edu<mailto:LM_NET at listserv.syr.edu>>; Texas Library Connection <tlc at txla.org<mailto:tlc at txla.org>>; alsc-l at lists.ala.org<mailto:alsc-l at lists.ala.org>; AILA at SI-LISTSERV.SI.EDU<mailto:AILA at SI-LISTSERV.SI.EDU>; yalsa-bk at lists.ala.org<mailto:yalsa-bk at lists.ala.org>
Subject: [alsc-l] Librarian wrote to me about Lenski's INDIAN CAPTIVE

Good morning!

A school librarian wrote to me about Lois Lenski's Indian Captive, asking if I'd reviewed it. Her question nudged me to finish writing about it. I want to return to it later, but for now, here's my review.


Please share it with others, as you wish, and if you know of a teacher who is using it to teach about stereotyping and bias, please let me know.



Debbie Reese, Ph.D.
Tribally enrolled: Nambe Pueblo

Publisher of American Indians in Children's Literature <http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.net>
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/debreese<http://twitter.com/#%21/debreese>
Email: dreese.nambe at gmail.com<mailto:dreese.nambe at gmail.com>
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