In 1942, Little Golden Books was launched. Among them are several with stereotypes of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
I don't know if this compilation is comprehensive... If something is missing, let me know! Below are the covers of books published from 1948 through 1974. Some observations about the 20 books:
- Two are alphabet books.
- Seven are television shows or movies.
- Four show a non-Native kid (or a rabbit) playing Indian.
- Seven show warbonnets.
- Six show headbands.
- There are 18 Indians shown on these covers (two on the Bugs Bunny one; none on the Roy Rogers and Little Trapper books). Only 2 are female. One of the two females is... umm... Howdy Doody's "Princess." I wonder what words Margaret Wise Brown used in her book? It is possible the Eskimo is female, too. I've assumed it is a male. If I'm wrong, let me know!
Do you have any of these books? Others? What are your observations?
I have Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way by Leonard Marcus. I don't think he mentions any of these in his book.
Here we go...
From reviews at Amazon, I see the book has 52 stories and rhymes. The Indian's is "Little Bear." There's also a Chinese cook named "No Pow Wow."
In "Lazy River Ranch" we read that "Injuns" that were "painted all up with fierce war paint" fought "your grandpa" but "a heap of red men bit the dust."
In "The Poor Wandering Cowboy" there's an Indian who comes riding along: "The Indian said 'How!'" Head over to Golden Gems and read both in their entirety, and others, too.
I for Indian was once commonly done. So was E for Eskimo. Notice all the other items shown on the cover are objects or animals. No G for German, J for Japanese, etc.
This seemingly innocuous use of "Indian" or "Eskimo" dehumanizes and obscures who Native people are. There are over 500 federally recognized tribal nations in the US and Alaska. "I for Indian" suggests that we all wear large feathered headdresses. We don't.
No Indian on the cover, but inside, Dan (shown on cover), meets an "Indian girl." To see her, go to Golden Gems. She looks just like Teggren's Little Bear on the cover of Cowboys and Indians (shown above) except that she is wearing a dress, a necklace, and a bracelet. Like Little Bear, she has blue moccasins and trousers trimmed with red triangles on a white background. Her hair and Little Bear's hair is identical, and so is the feather (white on bottom, red on tip). Her headband is red; his is multi-colored.
The princess is named "Princess Summerfall Winterspring." From his airplane (the "Air-o-doodle") they see a "contraption" (wagon). Princess says "Looks like a medicine man to me." They land to check it out. The "medicine man" is a showman (not an Indian) named Doc Lemon who does magic tricks. The princess has a magic necklace and outshines Doc. He's a sly one and swaps her necklace with one of his that isn't magic. Later when she talks to hers: "Kawa goopa tinka tonka--which way?" it does nothing. They set out to get it back.
Problems? Name of princess; calling showman a medicine man trivializes medicine people who are revered within Native Nations; words princess uses are bogus; stereotype portrayal of princess--no tribe, tipi, fringed clothing.