ALA Midwinter 2018

Board Action Update: the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

The Laura Ingalls Wilder award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.  It has been given since 1954, when the award was first conferred upon its namesake.  At first given every few years, it is now an annual award.

Tomorrow we will announce the 23rd recipient of this award.  With each award conferred, we honor the hard work and dedicated mastery that goes into creating exceptional literature for children.  Each individual honored presents a new standard for book creators to set their sights on, and an established body of work for children to enjoy for years to come.

As a member organization that seeks and holds up excellence in our honored award recipients, we also must examine ALSC and hold our structures accountable to our core values: including inclusiveness, integrity and respect, leadership, and responsiveness.

With this in mind, the ALSC Board recognizes that Wilder’s legacy is complex and that her work is not universally embraced.  It continues to be a focus of scholarship and literary analysis, which often brings to light anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments in her work.  The ALSC Board recognizes that legacy may no longer be consistent with the intention of the award named for her. The Board voted unanimously Saturday to establish a task force to explore the ALSC awards program within the context of our core values and our strategic plan, beginning with the Wilder Award. We have updated the “about” webpage for this award today to indicate this direction.

I will be assembling the task force swiftly and outlining a charge to provide recommendations in time to move forward with any potential changes to the 2019 award. The task force will then move on with thoughts on how to proceed with the rest of our awards program.  We recognize that in order to work consistently with our values, we must undertake an examination of our entire awards program, and that each of our awards may produce a different examination. The member task force will include or consult with a variety of stakeholders, including publishing colleagues, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion within ALSC Implementation Task Force, expert colleagues from our sister ethnic affiliates, and others.  

The morning before our Board decision, we and other ALSC members and leaders listened to a powerful presentation from Dr. Janina Fariñas and Johanna Ulloa Girón MSW. They provided a continuum model for our work in libraries serving children who face chronic, and sometimes toxic stress presented by immigration, acculturation, deportation or detention, and microagression: stressors that many children face and are a reality in all of our communities.

This model suggests a path for ALSC’s examination of its awards program, upon which we’ve already embarked with yesterday’s decision: beginning with a critical examination of where we stand, “acknowledging and honoring” the stressors that children carry and “making it possible for them to reclaim their history,”  and working with culturally proficient colleagues to ultimately “respect and honor children’s families’ histories and resilience…[standing in] solidarity for the rights [of all children].”  This is a clear road toward ALSC’s vision, that our members “engage communities to build healthy, successful, futures for all children”

It is with this vision in mind that I so look forward to our youth media award announcements each year.  Tomorrow’s Wilder award recipient, and all of our award recipients, contribute to our ability to achieve this vision, as we roll up our sleeves to ensure we are doing this work with responsiveness, inclusiveness, integrity and respect.



  1. Laura Cowie

    Bravo for undertaking this review. You will likely get a lot of flak but please persist. My own experience? Couldn’t wait to share Wilder’s much loved books w my youngest daughter. Her dad was Dakota. When I started to reread them I suddenly saw this whole other side to the stories I thought I knew so well. My daughter’s dad’s family were the Indigenous people described in the books, Laura and her family were overwhelming their lands. It was a shock for me how blind I’d been to not link these perspectives. I had to stop reading the book to my girl beachside I couldn’t have her take in those images of her identity. Again, thank you for looking at this!

    1. Christine

      But you are OK with illegal immigrants sweeping in and taking over our lands? Sounds like you need to repatriate yourself to the third world nation of your choice. BTW, native peoples were no saints – it is the bravery, fortitude and spirit of the early pioneers who make it possible for you to be sitting in your comfortable home, or “beachside,” typing your anti-American drivel.

      1. Therese

        Interesting pushback Christine with lots of assumptions. While I am not sure how I feel about renaming the award, I am interested in the thinking Laurie provides.

      2. Manuello Paganelli

        @ Christine, sadly most of those immigrants are also Native American Indians whose ancestors were here long before the white Spaniards arrived. And so far they are not stealing our lands. Our European ancestors took care of those things.

      3. Terri Swerzler

        Great answer! Thanks for standing up to this horrible action A.L.S. is taking.

      4. Laura Cowie

        Sorry Christine, I’m Canadian but promise not to invade your lands beyond the occasional drive to Fargo, ND. Sorry too that I inexplicably wrote “beachside” when I meant “because”. I had just come back from visiting my other daughter in the Dominican Republic when I wrote my response so I was probably longing for the Caribbean again. I might take your advice and go back to visit again — amazingly rich culture and history, and fascinating people.

        My youngest daughter’s family would have many humourous things to say about illegal aliens sweeping over their homeland. We’d all laugh, but would be sad inside remembering the terrors and atrocities endured as the Dakotas and Black Hills were taken over. But, as the people know, they are the survivors of their strongest ancestors and their hearts and culture endure.

        Wishing you a chance to experience other cultures in a meaningful way, so that you wouldn’t be in fear anymore, but at ease on this beautiful land.

    2. Kristine McGill

      Why couldn’t you be a parent and explain to her that years ago, when settlers were stealing the land from the Natives, conflicts occurred and the story reflects a little white girls experience growing up in that time. That some of the attitudes expressed were wrong, but have changed (but not enough)…To get your daughter to understand the history, and why some things are still continuing today?

      1. Jean Mendoza

        Kristine, the attitudes, mistaken ideas, and willful ignorance haven’t changed all that much. I’m seeing it in already comments people make about the award. And there are some things that being a parent, you don’t do. Or at least, some of us don’t. One is: we don’t let words of race-hatred come out of our mouths and pass into the ears of our children — even when the words are not our own and we would just be the messengers. Especially when beloved relatives would have been the targets of that race hatred … Decades ago, I also stopped reading Little House books to our daughter, who is Muscogee Creek, for that reason — like Laura Cowie ^^. There are ways to guide our children to understand the history, that do not involve telling them that Laura Ingalls’ “Ma” would have hated and feared their grandparents, uncles, cousins. I am so grateful to learn that the name of the award has been changed.

        1. Laura Cowie

          Thank you Jean. You have expressed yourself so eloquently and captured exactly what I felt. I simply could not let those words and stereotypes pass my lips, into the ears of my young child.

          My Dakota family has told me often about the slurs and stereotypes they faced growing up, the words that cut them as children and made them ashamed of their heritage. I didn’t want to be the one introducing those slurs to my daughter. Reading together in our own home is not where those words belong.

        2. Karen Common Sense

          The history lesson far outweighs the comments that are something for discussion – not a condemnation. All over the globe, people have feared and misunderstood (sometimes with obvious reason) those who invaded their areas. To act as though it doesn’t happen is almost as pathetic as pretending that everyone gets along. Or telling your kids we only read books by politically correct authors.

          1. Jean Mendoza

            Karen, I would say that people fear those who invade their areas for obvious and very solid reasons. Invaders by definition don’t recognize the rights or even the basic humanity of those they are invading. Those being invaded rarely “misunderstand” the intentions and actions of an invader; it’s very clear to them what is happening to them and the places they call home. The trauma is real and lasting.

            By changing the name of this award, ALSC is actually doing what you seem to want — providing a history lesson of sorts, with three components: 1) “Yes, there have been books written for children that contain dreadful stereotypes and misinformation nestled inside of very engaging stories.” 2) “No one is obligated to name an award after an author whose books do that.” 3) “In fact, one of the most meaningful ways to speak back to the history of marginalization is to say ‘We’re not going to do that now.’.”
            That’s not pathetic. That’s pretty powerful.

          2. Lisa

            I agree Karen, hiding history is a censorship. How will they learn where these prejudices come from??

  2. Pingback: ALSC Awards Program Review Update - ALSC Blog

  3. Jessie Haas

    “Now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”
    For that reason, and because it’s impossible to think of another writer for children who has achieved so much or had such an impact, I ask that you leave the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award alone.
    We can’t be her. She can’t come forward to say any more to us than she’s already said, or be someone who lives in these times. Let’s move forward, write our own tales, and name the next award for some author whose life and work are pure and without stain, insofar as we currently understand stain. Meanwhile we can hop and pray and strive to write anywhere near as well as this flawed woman, edited by a flawed and difficult daughter.
    And while I haven’t received the presentations you have, I do wonder if the issue of censorship came up anywhere. Isn’t this a form of censorship?

    1. Monica Irwin

      I am in total agreement with Jessie Haas. We cannot change the past and we cannot judge past authors based on today’s standards. I am embarrassed that this decision was made. I truly thought that librarians knew better. I am a retired school librarian and for the first time I am ashamed of this profession. I truly do not understand why this change was made.

      1. Susan L

        Cultural context. These books and their author are National Treasures. I cannot believe that what happened 150 years ago cannot be viewed as 150 years ago. These books are historically important and I read all to both my children when they were young. It’s the spirit of pioneering, bravery, and universal values of surviving hardship. Both black people and Native Americans were represented as good people who were unfairly treated at that time. What’s the deal with the present day dissatisfaction?

      2. Janette Butler

        Why does everyone think it’s okay to change history? Things WERE different back then! Racism was very active then, as it still is now. Reading Wilder’s stories had nothing to do with my personal beliefs, rather those things I learned through family & as time continued, I figured out what things are rhetoric & what are the truth. When those books were written, I don’t believe anything that was LIW’s truth was meant to be hurtful, that was just her reality from growing up & what she learned. This award should have been left alone. Mrs. Wilder wrote some beautiful, historical books for children. Leave it to people now a days to try to sully the reputation of a talented writer. This is another example of the stupidity of people, reading something, then interpreting as being racial. If I took everything I’ve read about the way the Irish were portrayed in the 19th & 20th century, I’d be terribly offended. The things I’ve read are how people saw it back then & I respect their right to describe how it looked from their perspective. Grow up people! Quit looking for things to be angry about!!

  4. Terri Swerzler

    Jessie Haas said it all and did very well. By taking away the name of this award you once again remove an American hero complete with flaws.

  5. Scott Debes

    You guys are totally ridiculous, I am so tired of the PC crap and attack on our history. You can keep trying to sweep the past under the rug but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! Stop pandering to these people who are insulted are every issue, book and statue in this country. Perhaps you guys should read some of the books you have in your possession. Like another comment I read said it best, “!984 was a cautionary tale not a blueprint of how we should handle our past.”

  6. Jan Brewski

    This is ridiculous!! Learn from the past, don’t erase it!! The current climate of political correctness is teaching the current generation that they don’t need to learn about anything that is unpleasant to them, what kind of lesson is that? Okay, please go erase everything we learned growing up about the Vietnam War and WW I and II. Oh, and great for female progress…this is an award named in honor of a female author, how many of those are there in the world? How about, let’s go erase all of the sexism in books? That’s right, we wouldn’t have enough time in a decade to go do that! Utterly ridiculous. Live on Laura Ingalls Wilder, we were all smarter due to reading your books and learning about CONTEXT. Amen, sister

    1. Jean Mendoza

      It seems to me that the name change actually represents learning from the past and making a change that’s positive for all children. The name change is NOT going to keep Wilder’s books off the shelves and out of the hands of kids. Whatever it is that you think people will learn from reading them is still there, still available. ALSC has changed the name of one award, and as the mother/grandmother/auntie of Native kids, I’m very pleased.

      1. Jan Brewski

        Interesting that as a female, grandmother, mother you don’t see the significance of keeping a female-represented honor available to female children/ grandchildren. Laura Ingalls-Wilder was inspirational to many females in a generation when there few…this award’s name reflected this very point.

        1. Frederic Suess

          Thank you, Jan, but Jean has her mindset and is definitely in the minority as far as this thread is concerned. How did Jean’s family find out about the atrocities committed by whites, or the one’s she left out about the one’s the Indians committed, (Hummm, Maybe from ” STORIES” from some other flawed authors also???) Jessie Haas has a great point especially about the mindset of this flawed woman and judging past authors by today’s PC standards. IMHO, Jean is very closed minded

          1. Jean Mendoza

            Frederic et al.,
            here are some excellent resources (by actual historians, not fiction writers) that might help you better understand how someone with Native family members & loved ones approaches a situation like this:
            An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
            Facing East from Indian Country, by Daniel Richter.
            The First Way of War: American Warmaking on the Frontier, by John Grenier.
            Federal Indian Law, by Matthew L.M. Fletcher.
            It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own, by Richard White.
            Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence, by Boyd Cothran.
            I’m sure libraries have a lot of them; I have them all on my Kindle for easy reference.
            None of this information is actually new, but a person won’t see much of it in history classes (unless you take a Native American history course). But a lot of it is common knowledge within Native communities — and verified. It seems likely that at least a few of the ALSC decision-makers may have read some of those books, or some with similar content, and used them to inform their decision to change the name of the award.

            And regarding the award being (formerly) named for a woman: It’s not clear why anyone should be grateful to have an award named for a woman, just because she’s a woman. It’s far more important that women — such as the awesome Jacqueline Woodson — continue to receive the Children’s Literature Legacy Award for their worthy work.

  7. JJ

    I was mortified to learn of your actions regarding Laura Ingalls Wilder. While I am not a fan of the stereotypical portrayal of characters of color, I am aware of the progress that has been made in the years since the publishing of those books. It is not only unfair, but downright mean to judge the actions (to be read published work) of someone not by the mores of the era in which they lived but by a those of an era of the next century. We cannot have progress in acceptance of all without proof that all were not always accepted. Shame on you as a group. Literature is our last line of defense in preserving our society’s true history. This step has weakened that line.

  8. Rob Stewart

    By all means, scrub history clean because with all of its flaws we must not allow our tender feelings and those of our children to be bombarded with reality. This politically correct nonsense relegates us to an old adage that history repeats itself. If you’re going to propel Wilder to the annals of history as a racist/bigot you’re now required to do the same to the likes of Twain and Stowe. You’ve manufactured a very slippery slope and it’s utterly disgusting.

  9. Jennifer Tucker

    Laura was telling her story as it happened to her! SHE wasn’t forcing Indians to be removed from their land! She had NO choice to go to Indian territory! If she did use descriptive terms, towards certain cultures it’s because she was TAUGHT to view them that way. These terms did NOT originate from her! You are punishing her for what she was taught. Shame on YOU!

  10. Terrie Fitzpatrick

    I agree with Jessie Haas. What is the world coming to if we “adjust” history to be politically correct. How dare you all for taking it upon yourself to make a decision that will negatively affect so many children in never knowing the reality of those who survived a brutal time and disgracing a woman who took the time to share her experience. An entire generation grew up reading her books and to deprive future generations of this rich history is a terrible mistake towards censorship.

  11. Jason

    This is a horrible decision, while her writings may not reflect the current political correctness that the whole world seems to be erasing, her writings do reflect the reality of the time. Every politically incorrect part of her book is an opportunity to discuss history and how far we’ve come. We are currently watching the TV show and although there are racist viewpoints, there are also the opposite. A black man who becomes a part of the community exposes the racism of others and causes the viewer to think and see both sides. Native Americans are viewed with hatred because of past conflicts but helped by other families. Maybe a more courageous stance would be to stand up to the PC culture and defend the namesake of the award instead of destroying a legacy and staining a good name.

  12. Nancy Salvadalena

    My old copy of the book quotes the author as writing “there were no SETTLERS there , only Indians”

    1. Jean Mendoza

      That’s interesting , Nancy. Wonder when that change was made? But what else that Wilder wrote about Native people is still there? Folks who are upset about the change of the award name, I ask you to consider — would you feel comfortable reading aloud “Ma’s” words of racial hatred to a Native child? Or the noxious description of the Native men who come into the cabin? What about the scene with Pa in blackface?
      Changing the name of the award is hardly going to remove Wilder’s books from libraries, or correct the misconceptions young readers find in her books — but it does signal that a library organization recognizes the humanity of all people.

  13. Alicia

    Utterly assinine. Just erase history. History should be perserved, taught, and used to understand the truth of the World; how it has evolved to date. Several times in history books and other items of historical value were burned and destroyed in prelude to war and holocausts. History is destined to repeat it’s self without remembrance. So, just erase history and it’s evidence. Consider whether you and other politicos can live with yourselves as history proceeds. Sad. It brings tears to my eyes.

  14. Lisa Miller

    Taking Ingalls name off the award nullifies it’s purpose! Having her name on the award inspires children to write and to read and to keep diaries. It is hateful that the organization is retracting the very name that exemplifies the REASON the honor being bestowed. It is telling children they must not write about what their world is as they see it! Where would any future literature be born if children today are not allowed to be motivated to share their own experiences and observations? We would live in a world without books or music or creativity of any kind. This decision is hateful and akin to banning not only the books, but the very act of writing. I am SICK. I do NOT live in Nazi Germany. It is NOT 1945. Hitler doesn’t live here anymore.

  15. David Winters

    As an author, the proposed action strikes me as deeply offensive. That the action is contemplated by an organization with such a rich history as a societal beacon is doubly troubling. History is what it is. Whitewashing it for the sake of political correctness of the moment stinks of totalitarianism. Promote freedom. Leave the award in place (with your reputatio5n) and create a new award to honor those who embrace a progressive agenda.

  16. Elizabeth Murphy

    I am very concerned about the rewrite of American History to suit the “needs” of the current reading public. With the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the ALA is accomplishing what it seeks to avoid. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her books from the perspective of the time she lived. To change the words or ideas in her books would be to change history. When we seek to ignore history, or even to make it more palatable, we are ensuring that we repeat that same history. It is imperative that children learn and grow with an understanding of our history, not an understanding of what most pleases our current culture.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder was a woman who sought to share what makes a country grow, and who those people were that took part. In several of her books, as a young girl she witnessed the removal of and injustices to the Native Peoples. She also describes the use of derogatory terms for individuals from the Native and other cultures. This is what makes a young reader understand what the American culture was in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder. In no way does this take away from the impact this woman had on generations of young readers.

    I would ask that the decision to rename the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award be reconsidered. This was a woman who had profound influence on the youth of America. It is up to we adults in this generation to use the writings of the past, to teach the current and future generations what is good and acceptable and worthy of repeating in our culture.

  17. Gretchen Harmon

    I’m sorry but what she wrote is history and needs to be known as such. Next it will be Mark Twain and his writings!

  18. Melinda Chrestman

    I am very disappointed that you have taken this award away from Laura Ingalls Wilder. No one is proud the way in which native peoples were treated. However, Mrs. Wilder wrote to reflect the times. Will your decision be the beginning of supporting the banning of books? We cannot change history. We should know what really happened so that history will not be repeated. Funny, I feel like I am writing to one of the parents of my students. Yes, I am a retired librarian, and also part Choctaw.

  19. Marqueta Stephens

    Another sad example of political correctness gone too far. Do MLK’s infidelities make him a less historic figure? Do they diminish his achievements? I think not.

  20. Lisa

    I am very saddened that the name was changed. To tarnish the legacy of the award namesake for what was common beliefs in her time, and very prevalent in her era. In 100 years things that are common ways of thinking now will be seen as wrong. It makes me sad that all society seems to want to do is wipe away history. It should never be forgotten. I certainly find it ridiculous to change an award name especially in the light of Ms. Wilder later change the offensive passage in the books. She rewrote them because of the wrongness.

  21. Jay W

    Awesome. Way to go revisionist. “Oh no! Bad things that were said/done in the past will perpetuate how modern man thinks, without the opportunity to learn and grow from our past!”


  22. Manuello Paganelli

    This is so wrong! Why attack books written so long ago which reflects the character and mind of the time?
    Do any of our contemporary authors use any of those derogatory terms today? I am sure the same would had been the case with writers before the 1960s.

    That is how people thought of Native Americans then and, sadly, even today in many places like Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Ecuador etc We can’t justified changing and purifying our ugly history by enforcing the morals of our time.
    We don’t even have to go far, just look the inhumane and racist way poor Mexican, Guatemalans etc immigrants are been treated by our president Trump. Most of those folks are Native Americans descendants of Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. If they had look like Ted Cruz, Cameron Diaz or white Latin America nations like Argentina, Chile , Uruguay etc then Trump would be at the border with a red carpet and open arms.
    Should we also take away the Nobel Prize awarded to Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Tony Morrison and other awards given to white or black writers like: Mark Twain, Flannery Oconnor, Alex Haley, Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Wolfe, Harper Lee, Alice Walker, James Baldwin etc for using the word “Negro” or “Nigger” in their writings?
    Travel With Charlie comes to mind when Steinbeck pulled at a gas station and the attendant mistook Charlie for a black person. In fact this is what he wrote: “I thought you had a nigger in there.’ And he laughed delightedly. It was the first of many repetitions.” John Steinbeck
    In the same book he also wrote: ” It’s the goddamn New York Jews cause all the trouble.” Yet here is a man who fought for the rights and the protection of migrant workers similar to the ones been held at the borders. He wasn’t a racist or an antisemitic. He fought those who were oppressed and didn’t have a voice or the influence. When the Grapes of Wrath was published he was accused of been a Jew and his great novel was called, “Jewish propaganda” they even demanded for him to show that he wasn’t Jewish at all.
    Now almost 100 years later ALSC is crucifying a strong and admired woman writer who have inspired millions of girls, young women and even boys and men like me.

    Our children can’t be protected and placed in a utopian world. Is up to us parents, scholars and teachers to explain them well the meaning and intention of those words which were commonly used back then by the average person.

    The evil and the good of our past had lead us to where we are now and ignoring it won’t make us better.
    Manuello Paganelli
    Photographer and author

    1. Manuello Paganelli

      I meant to write that Steinbeck fought for those who were oppressed and didn’t have a voice or the influence.
      I couldn’t a way to edit it.

    2. Susan L

      Well said Manuello!! And the librarian committees of today would probably not pass the teachers exam at age 15 as Laura did. nor drive 26 miles in minus 20 degree weather next to a beau to spend a weekend at home. Nor, did their immediate family survive panthers in the woods,patting a bear (in the dark Ma thought it was a pig), packs of wolves on the plains, crossing the Mississipi river in a wagon the day prior to the ice breaking up. They didn’t have to survive Indian wars, malaria, 7 years of droughts, locusts eating the wheat 2 years in a row. Would they be thrilled with just a candy cane and a shiny penny for Christmas? Would they feel the immenseness of the prairie skies 360 degrees around the wagon for days on end. Librarians of today never had to survive the long winter of 1883(?) which was forwarned to settlers by a Native American “Heap Big Snow”. It was July when the trains finally came through and Almanzo and his brother saved the town from starving. What a huge mistake. There will never be anyone like the one and only original Laura Ingalls Wilder because she is the one who documented American history. Chief Joseph was 20 miles from the Freedom and his people almost genocided said “We will fight no more forever”. Why don’t you just leave the award in her name unless you have something better? Are you going to rename the award the Magic Tree House awards after you have a latte? Maybe you guys watched the Michael Landon TV series instead reading the actual books!

  23. Robert

    Thanks so much. Now can we also please remove her books from the shelves. Maybe make some room for some diverse books. In fact, there are a lot of “beloved” writers whose works have got to be less available to children, not tomention adults of feebler minds.

  24. Thomas Mathews

    I understand why people are upset about this decision. Laura Ingalls Wilder has long been a beloved author of children’s books that many of us have grown up reading and that we associate with our childhood. The very idea that someone could propose censoring those books is abhorrent, both to me and apparenly to many other readers.

    The problem, though, is that this decision is not in any way, shape or form, about censorship. An organization has reread her books and reassessed their opinion of them and, in so doing, decided to change the name of an award they bestow on talented authors. They are perfectly within their rights to do so just as we are free to express our opinions about any book that we read. Nowhere do they demand, ask, or even suggest that Ms. Wilder’s books should be banned, that access to them should be restricted, or that they be altered to conform to their standards. They don’t even suggest that people should no longer read them. They have expressed their concerns about the books, something that happens every day in book clubs around the world. Thank goodness that that isn’t censorship or I would be guilty of it on a daily basis.

    One final point. The ALSC was concerned about attitudes expressed by some of the characters, including the old line “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” which was attributed to Wilder’s mother. I, too, am troubled by that sentiment. I’m not saying I wouldn’t read the books to my children but I would definitely take time to discuss the context with them.

  25. Blaine Dunlap

    I grew up not 30 miles from the Cabin in Little House on the Prairie, Parsons Kansas. The books were read in class each day. To take objection to these few phrases is preposterous. They are in the same vein as disallowing Mark Twain for the use of language of the time. If she would have called them Ingenious Peoples who might kill me at any time would it change things. If anything, they are a marker of changing times and attitudes. For a young girl on the prairie that was her view and experience. Indians, do we get to call them that, were beyond any thing she would have ever seen or experienced and this relates the mindset of the time.
    The west was a savage place. Tribes were always at war, Indian on Indian captives were burned at the stake, is that not a little savage. It is the whole new age view that the Horse Culture of the Plains Indians was man at his best, ignoring all other facts and practicality to the contrary. Forget that the Sioux were chased out of Minnesota by the Fox, the Cheyenne chased to the west by the Sioux and on and on. The Pawnee were regarded as psyco killers by all the tribes. No one says we weren’t as savage.
    I guess if you live on the Hudson River (when are you giving Manhattan back BTW) your view is that from St. Louis to Denver and St. Paul to Dallas should just be made into a buffalo reserve instead of a granary feeding 2 billion people.
    Go out to Ft. Hayes and cross a ridge and not see a thing for miles but ravines and waving grass and think about setting up a life with what you could put in a car trunk. Did you see the picture of the house they built. Most of you wouldn’t let your dog live like that. Inclusive? There were Indian parties that went and took what they wanted and killed settlers. Well exaggerated, but when they come near your rude shack and you have a single shot muzzleloader and a family, what is your politically correct view of what might happen next?
    I could do better, but I’m not going to change any politically correct brainwashed minds.
    I don’t even like Ted Nugent, I’ve meet him, but I would like to close with, you have your place in the food chain, deal with it.
    You wouldn’t take the Award away if you had any idea of the West or of what it took to Win It. Yes. We won the west. Deal with it.

    1. Jean Mendoza

      The ALSC did not take an award away from Wilder. They simply renamed an award — for all the very good reasons they stated.

      Interesting that some commenters focus on the courage of & hardships endured by the settler-colonizers — valorized in such engaging ways in Wilder’s books — but have nothing positive to say of the people who had been on the land for thousands of years before the first Europeans, and fought for their homelands — just as you no doubt picture yourself fighting for your home.

      I shared some history book titles up there ^^ somewhere to help some folks who are struggling with the actual factual history, such as how the West was really “won.” Hope it’s acceptable to repeat them.

      The First Way of War: American Warmaking on the Frontier, by John Grenier.
      Facing East from Indian Country, by Daniel Richter.
      It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own, by Richard White.
      Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence, by Boyd Cothran
      An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

      Really important stuff there — and you won’t find anything like it in Dances with Wolves, The Matchlock Gun, or Wilder’s books.

  26. C.A. Matthews

    I enjoyed reading Laura’s books while growing up. They helped me learn more about American history–all of it, warts and all–and encourage me to read other authors, fiction and non-fiction, on the same topics and locales where she lived. For some reason, I never found any of the Little House books particularly “racist” (or whatever you are implying), and my family is part Native American and African-American. A kindly Black doctor nursed Laura’s family back to health after they had malaria is about the only mention I can remember of African-Americans. How is that “racist”? And yes, her family lived on land that was once inhabited by Native Americans. Where do YOU live in the USA today? Was it not once inhabited by Native Americans? Shall we call you names because you’re living on their land now? It makes no sense at all. This change of name for the award after so many decades just smacks of petty hatred against a beloved author of children’s books the world over. Is the ALA really that jealous of Laura’s legacy that they would wipe her name after the award they created for her originally?

    1. Roxanne Feldman

      I don’t think there is any hatred against Wilder at all. And there is nothing “petty” about this important and well thought out decision. The books are still available. They can still be shared (and hopefully, like you, readers can see the warts and all and reflect on the reality of American History.)

      You’re so right about non-Natives ALL live on lands stolen/forcefully taken/robbed from the Native Americans. That is why we need to make amends and stop inflicting MORE injustices on Native Americans. And thus, this retitling of the award. A meaningful gesture.

  27. mary

    I am upset and disturbed that a pioneering WOMAN AUTHOR who was beyond reproach in her personal life is having her work smeared this way. Mark Twain and other male authors who were toxic males will of course, continue to be revered. I used these books as a teaching moment with my daughters. We discussed why families were forced to seek new beginnings on the frontiers to begin with. WE KNOW WHY! Many of them were immigrants, especially the Irish, who were escaping starvation and other poverty and oppression. It’s the same old story. C olonialism is indeed bad, but those who do the colonizing are doing it on behalf of others who reap all the wealth. This is a disgusting decision and extremely disheartening.

  28. Roxanne Feldman

    I’m so moved by this decision. Now, if my workplace would rename Columbus Day, that would be wonderful! I’m going to cite this as an example to help my administrators to see how it can be done! Thank you ALSC leadership and members for taking this important step!

  29. Karen Common Sense

    This is censorship plain and simple, make no mistake.

    Books do not have an ethical or moral imperative to uphold and neither do authors. To discount the obvious, century spanning benefits of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s experience because you don’t like the truth of her and her family experience or perception is wildly out of line. The reason generations after generations have adored her books was because she brought alive a period of history in a way we could all relate to and understand. No one read her books and thought to themselves – well finally I’ve found another person who hates Indians like I do. She captures what it felt like to have Indians come to their house on the prairie in a way that was authentic. It must have been frightening, how else would it be? if aliens descended into our own homes, would we be initially frightened or welcome them with open arms?

    Here is a perfect example of using a wonderful tool as a teachable moment and instead this laughable and completely discredited organization appoint themselves judge and jury of the human race. Discrimination happens in every single race and every single country, no matter how small.

    I am thoroughly disappointed with a lack of common sense in this decision. You have lost all credibility in my eyes and I sincerely hope that this results in a loss of public funding.

    1. Jean Mendoza

      Karen, please keep in mind that — from the perspective of the Native men entering the cabin, and of the Osage people facing a terrible choice that meant great pain for them no matter what they decided — the “aliens” were the Ingalls family and the other squatters. It’s likely that *their* presence, where they were not supposed to be, alarmed the Native families in the vicinity every bit as much as the two young men alarmed the Ingalls family by entering their cabin.

      Little House on the Prairie is not a welcoming space for Native kids. Little Town on the Prairie, with Pa in blackface at the minstrel show, is not a welcoming space for African American kids. No amount of seizing the “teachable moment” can make it so.

  30. canuck

    I hope you’re all enjoying the backlash. This was even featured on CBC in Canada and is being heavily criticised here.

  31. Barbara Kneisler

    This is truely a sign that culltural equality has been blown out of porpurtion. The statement only means that the American Indian did not have white skine.

  32. Pingback: 'Little House on the Prairie' Author Name Removed From Award, Lack of Inclusion Cited | PoliticsNote

  33. Terri

    Are you listening to what the majority is saying about this action against Laura’s stories? Or do you just want to be correct at all costs?

  34. Laura Cowie

    For so many people here who are avid readers and lovers of works of the imagination, there seems to be very little ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes. I’m glad for you that you loved Laura Invalls Wilder’s novels so passionately. It is it too much to ask that you put yourself in the position of a young Indigenous child who also comes to love Laura and her family, only to get struck by the awful way Indigenous people are described?
    That’s the kind of deep pain that goes straight to a child’s open heart and starts to shape and warp how they feel about themselves. It’s also how non-Indigenous children learn negative words and stereotypes too, words that easily strike out at the playground later.

    Political correctness is now a pejorative term but the real term here to me is respect. Can we respect another person’s or another culture’s lived experiences or are we trapped in only our own old views of the world? If Indigenous people say these stereotypes and words cause pain and the stories do not accurately represent their oral histories, can we respect their viewpoints and make room to adjust our reactions? We can learn so deeply by listening wholeheartedly to each other.

    To me it is time to change the name of this award, so we can reflect the broader diversity of our children and the authors writing for them. I am very glad Laura’s stories are still available in picture book version, with all the delightful family warmth and anecdotes, and none of the bias. That’s how I’ll share her tales with my
    grandchildren should they ever decide to come along.

    1. Elizabeth Murphy

      Laurie Cowie, please do not misunderstand me. I am quite able to put myself in those shoes. I come from an ancestry that was also persecuted, but I do not want that to be what this is about. I wanted my children to read and understand everything about how my ancestors were dealt with, felt about, and forced to move on leaving everything behind. To ignore those things would be to ignore my own history. Just as I would never want to scrub clean the many writings about the Holocaust, and all that the persecution of the Jewish people entails. To ignore such things would allow them to be repeated.

      The fact is, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote from a first person perspective, and that is what truly teaches history. To change the words, changes history. More than this, however, is the idea of removing this author’s name from an award, when she had an enormous impact on generations of readers. Mrs. Wilder wrote was acceptable for her time, and while we may find those things unpleasant today, we cannot ignore them, or ignore the mark Mrs. Wilder made in literature.

  35. Pingback: Will 'woke' America purge Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Little House on the Prairie' next? | Olionews

  36. Brian Ingalls

    This is truly shameful decision. Let us hope for their sake that members of the ALSC board do not mention or accidentally honor many of their grandparents who likely grew up in an era where racism was more prevalent. Let us be as silent as possible about historical figures including Margaret Sanger who made many racist statements, slave owners Thomas Jefferson or George Washington. The mere mention of their names is possibly hurtful to many people. In fact, let us remind people that to speak of history is to give voice to that which shall not be named. Let us pretend that Bill and Hillary Clinton never dressed in black face. Let us accept that although someone may have been an inspiration to women and may have accurately provided a snapshot of American history, we should not name them out loud lest we realize they were imperfect. Damn the hypocrisy, full steam ahead.

  37. Pingback: Little House on the Orwellian Prairie: PC Brigade Throws Laura Ingalls Wilder Under the Bus | The Daily Sheeple

  38. Susan L

    I can’t believe in Donald Trump. I can’t believe in the ALSC. But I will always believe in Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  39. Dave Hart

    To retroactively strip Laura Ingalls Wilder of this prize is what is called Ex Post Facto decision making, which is condemning someone today for something that was legal, moral, even expected in previous days and eras. The Constitution of the US actually bans this practice against people who could face jail time for doing something previously that was made illegal today.

    Stripping her of this prize is wrong and imposes upon her a way of thinking that was foreign to her. It is indicting her for what was common practice in her day. That is Ex Post Facto thinking.

    150 years from now, people will look back at our generation and wonder how we got away with half of the things we do now that don’t even register as racist or bigoted.

    1. Jean Mendoza

      LIW is not being stripped of the prize. The name of the award is being changed — and she still is the first awardee. Nothing is being imposed upon her, and this is not a legal issue; the Constitution does not apply.

      The biased (mis) representations of Native people and African-American people in her books make them unwelcoming spaces for Native and African-American kids. That is why the name of the award was changed — to reflect the completely appropriate mission of the ALSC, which is, in part, to provide services that include ALL children.

  40. Kay1569

    Hmmmm…..What about this author? I ran into this quote quite by accident. Shocked the heck out of me!

    “The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians…Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; it’s better that they should die than live the miserable wretches that they are.”

    “The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth…”

    ~ L. Frank Baum – writer of The Wizard of Oz

  41. Susan L

    Shakespeare’s writings were considered anti-Semitic. Are you going to PC him out of history too?

  42. Jean Mendoza

    Shakespeare’s plays aren’t considered children’s literature, and as far as I know, no children’s literature award bears his name.

    And yes, as a newspaperman, Baum made no secret of his genocidal attitudes.

  43. Serena

    Some people just don’t understand, that Laura Ingles Wilder was telling how she grew up back then. It’s pretty sad that people want to change something all cause it offends them in some way. That is a pathetic person who gets offended that easily,about something so interesting.

  44. Devon Hughes

    When identitarianism trumps reason and logic, you get ridiculous discussions like this. “Our people were and are oppressed by ‘your people’, so we’re justified in any overstep of logic and reason in the service of WINNING this [neverending] battle.” This is how they think. It’s a combination of overobsession with group identity, rage, resentment, and desire to punish perverted by years of insular, hyper intellectualized ideological echo chambers–churning out self-professed warriors with weapons that work only on uneducated masses. It’s sad they’re not self-aware enough to admit it. Don’t even bother using logic. This is war to them; a war waged by resentful ideologues who use their PhDs instead of guns. This is identity politics and the conveniently selective pseudo morality and pseudo logic of collectivism and tribalism. Don’t bother discussing with someone who values power over truth. Why subject yourself to the amoral rage from the cowardly confines of the ivory tower–that institution which once sought to improve humanity but has been ironically caught in their own postmodern feedback loop?

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