Last night ITYC had the great pleasure of speaking with the inspirational Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children's Literature. Debbie through her tireless work of stressing the importance of critically examining images of American Indians in children's literature, shines a light on the proliferation of harmful media representations of Indian people which reduce their humanity and obscures their presence in the modern world.
We talked about the problematic images of Indian people in YA lit juggernauts like Stephenie Myer's Twilight Saga and the preponderance of children's authors who "play Indian" from Forest Carter to Jamake Highwater. Debbie revealed how these deeply flawed childhood images of Indian people form the bedrock of the mentality which informs the practice appropriation in everything from sports mascots to the latest wave of hipster appropriators.
Debbie encouraged parents, teachers, and all readers in general to explore the rich world of Indian authors telling their own stories in both children's and adult literature. In addition to some of the authors she suggested during our show, people can check out a more complete list of suggested readings in this PDF on the AICL website.
Though she has moved on from her teaching position at University of Illinois, Debbie is continuing her tireless work with AICL while pursuing her Masters in Library Science at San Jose State University, with the eventual goal of opening a tribal library and resource center on her reservation at Nambe Pueblo. Thanks again to Debbie for taking time to engage with the ITYC audience.