Saturday, October 18, 2008

Banned Books Week

During the week of Banned Books Week, September 27th through October 3rd, I entered our small library for the first time to receive my library card. I knew I would feel as though I truly belonged in the community once I had my card in hand. As the librarian entered my application information into the system, I glanced at a bookmark sitting on the counter.

I picked it up and read,
"Closing books limits understanding.
Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Attempts have been made to ban Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic stories of American pioneer life, Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie, for 'fueling the fire of racism' against Native Americans."

My mouth gaped in shock. Then I frowned. They've got to be kidding, I thought.

I am Native American, whose Cherokee descendants walked the Trail of Tears. I think we need to remember the times that Laura lived in. Anyone who allows their children to listen to or read Laura's books would do well to take the opportunity to teach how the Native Americans were wrongly treated. That we are to respect and love all cultures.

This doesn't mean it's an opportunity to instill hate, but to learn more of what happened to the Native American people. It's our history. I still feel sad, when I think of the accounts I've read of the Trail of Tears. We must forgive, though, and not ban books that have a few hate remarks against a culture.

When I read Laura's books to my children, I explained that words used in a negative way about our people were unkind. And that it was sad to realize that many people hated the Native Americans. My children grew up respecting their Native American heritage, and they did not feel self pity for what happened to our ancestors. I remember my Cherokee great-grandfather. He could speak no English, and he was a very quiet man. What would he think of banning books about how one little girl's family helped shape a nation?

It makes me wonder what the real reason is behind banning books.