Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from book award over portrayal of minorities

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Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from book award over racism concerns

"Even in her own lifetime Wilder apologized for her thoughtlessness and amended a line in Little House on the Prairie that said Kansas had 'no people, only Indians.' It now reads 'no settlers, only Indians'".

At issue is the fact that those stories sometimes reflected the era's prevailing attitudes about blacks and Native Americans, particularly the hatred and fear between settlers and natives.

While numerous Little House books became widely read, critics said her work included many stereotypical and reductive depictions of Native Americans and people of color.

Wilder was the first to win the award in 1954, when she was in her late 80s and nearing the end of her life.

A division of the American Library Association is removing author Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a book award after years of complaints about her depictions of Native Americans in her books, The Washington Post reported.

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Although Wilder's work holds a significant place in the history of children's literature and continues to be read today, ALSC has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder's legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder's name.

Something readers may tend to forget is that Little House on the Prairie and the related books in the series are something of a hybrid in terms of historical fiction.

Wilder's name was replaced with the nondescript title "Children's Literature Legacy Award". "The ALSC Board recognizes that legacy may no longer be consistent with the intention of the award named for her". Among the offending passages are characters who say things like "the only good Indian is a dead Indian", and depictions of men wearing blackface as part of performances. They responded to the offended reader, saying they couldn't believe that in all the years people had been reading Little House on the Prairie (about 20 years at that time), no one had caught the implication that Native Americans are not people.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) as a schoolteacher, 1887.

In a March column for The Washington Post, after the association announced that it was considering stripping Wilder's name from the award, Fraser argued the library association "evokes the anodyne view of literature" that it has fought against, and that no book, "including the Bible, has ever been "universally embraced". Fraser stated that Wilder's work "vividly, unforgettably ... still tells truths about white settlement, homesteading and the violent appropriation of Indian land and culture".

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