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Eli Sanchez
Eli Sanchez

A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children - Google Books



A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children




Introduction




Children's books can be powerful tools for educating, entertaining and inspiring young readers. They can also be sources of misinformation, bias and stereotypes that harm the self-image and identity of Native American children and perpetuate myths and prejudices among non-Native children. How can we tell the difference between books that respect and honor the diversity and richness of Native American cultures and experiences, and books that distort and erase them?




A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children (Contemporary Native American Communitie



One valuable resource that can help us answer this question is A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children, a book of reviews that critically evaluates children's books about Native Americans written between the early 1900s and 2003, accompanied by stories, essays, poems and artwork from Native contributors. In this article, we will explore what A Broken Flute is, why it is important, and how it can be used by educators, parents and anyone interested in presenting honest materials by and about indigenous peoples to children.


What is A Broken Flute?




A Broken Flute is a book edited by Doris Seale (Santee/Cree) and Beverly Slapin (of European descent), published by Rowman Altamira in 2005. It is a compilation of work by Native parents, children, educators, poets and writers who share their perspectives on children's books about Native Americans. The book contains over 600 reviews of books by more than 500 authors, arranged alphabetically by title. The reviews cover pre-school, K-12 levels, and some adult and teacher materials. The book also includes "living stories," essays, poetry, and artwork from its contributors that reflect their personal experiences, cultural values, historical knowledge and artistic expressions.


Why is it important to critically evaluate children's books about Native Americans?




Children's books about Native Americans are often inaccurate, incomplete or offensive in their portrayal of indigenous peoples. They may present Native Americans as a monolithic group that lived only in the past, or as exoticized or romanticized stereotypes that have little to do with reality. They may ignore or minimize the diversity, complexity and resilience of Native cultures and histories. They may also appropriate or misrepresent Native spirituality, traditions, languages and stories without proper respect or attribution.


These books can have negative effects on both Native and non-Native children. For Native children, they can undermine their sense of self-worth, pride and belonging. They can make them feel invisible, marginalized or misrepresented in the dominant culture. They can also discourage them from learning more about their own heritage and identity. For non-Native children, they can reinforce ignorance, prejudice and indifference towards Native Americans. They can prevent them from developing a critical and empathetic understanding of the diverse and dynamic realities of indigenous peoples. They can also deprive them of the opportunity to appreciate and learn from the rich and varied contributions of Native Americans to literature, art, science, politics and society.


How can educators and parents use A Broken Flute as a resource?




A Broken Flute can help educators and parents select and evaluate children's books about Native Americans in a more informed and responsible way. The book provides clear and concise reviews that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each book, as well as the cultural background and credentials of the authors and illustrators. The reviews also offer suggestions for alternative or complementary books that are more accurate, respectful and authentic in their representation of Native Americans.


Besides the reviews, A Broken Flute also offers insights and guidance from Native voices that can enrich and deepen the understanding of Native American literature and culture. The living stories, essays, poems and artwork in the book illustrate the diversity and richness of Native experiences, perspectives and expressions. They also challenge and critique the common problems and stereotypes found in children's books about Native Americans, such as the myth of the first Thanksgiving, the appropriation of dreamcatchers and kokopelli, the misrepresentation of Coyote and Raven stories, and the erasure of contemporary Native issues and realities.


A Broken Flute can be used by educators and parents in various ways, such as:



  • Choosing books for classroom or home libraries that reflect the diversity and richness of Native American cultures and experiences.



  • Creating lesson plans or activities that incorporate living stories, essays, poems and artwork from Native contributors.



  • Encouraging critical thinking and discussion among children about the accuracy, bias and stereotypes in children's books about Native Americans.



  • Fostering appreciation and respect for Native American literature, art, history and culture among children.



  • Supporting Native American authors, artists and publishers who produce quality children's books about Native Americans.



Living Stories




What are living stories and how do they differ from written stories?




Living stories are oral narratives that are passed down from generation to generation among Native American communities. They are not fixed or static, but dynamic and adaptable to different contexts and audiences. They are not meant to be written down or recorded, but to be spoken or sung by storytellers who have learned them from their elders or mentors. They are not mere entertainment or fiction, but sources of wisdom, knowledge and identity for Native peoples. They are not owned or copyrighted by individuals, but shared and respected by communities.


Written stories are narratives that are recorded in written form by authors who may or may not have a direct connection to the stories they write. They are fixed or stable, but subject to interpretation and criticism by different readers. They are meant to be read or printed by anyone who has access to them. They may be entertaining or fictional, but also informative or persuasive for readers. They may be owned or protected by individuals or institutions who have legal rights over them.


How do living stories reflect the diversity and richness of Native cultures and experiences?




Living stories reflect the diversity and richness of Native cultures and experiences in many ways, such as:



  • They convey the values, beliefs, traditions and worldviews of different Native nations, tribes, clans and families.



  • They celebrate the languages, songs, dances, ceremonies and rituals of different Native groups.



  • They recount the histories, legends, myths and heroes of different Native peoples.



  • They teach the lessons, morals, ethics and laws of different Native societies.



  • They express the emotions, feelings, hopes and dreams of different Native individuals.



  • They address the challenges, struggles, conflicts and changes that different Native communities face.



  • They honor the relationships, connections, responsibilities and obligations that different Native beings have with each other and with the natural world.



What are some examples of living stories from A Broken Flute?




A Broken Flute contains many examples of living stories from various Native contributors who share their personal experiences, cultural values, historical knowledge and artistic expressions. Some examples are:



  • "The Gift of Syrup" by Marlene R. Atleo (Ahousaht), a story about how her grandfather taught her to make maple syrup from the sap of maple trees in their territory.



"Frybreadand Feather # Article with HTML formatting (continued) Reviews of Children's Books about Native Americans




How are the reviews organized and what criteria are used to evaluate the books?




The reviews in A Broken Flute are organized alphabetically by title, with a brief summary of the book's content, genre, format, target age group, author and illustrator information, and publication date. The reviews also include a critical analysis of the book's strengths and weaknesses, using criteria such as:



  • The accuracy and authenticity of the information and representation of Native Americans.



  • The respect and sensitivity for the diversity and complexity of Native cultures and histories.



  • The avoidance and critique of stereotypes, biases and myths about Native Americans.



  • The inclusion and acknowledgment of Native voices, perspectives and sources.



  • The quality and appeal of the writing, illustrations and design.



The reviews also offer suggestions for alternative or complementary books that are more accurate, respectful and authentic in their representation of Native Americans. The reviews are written by Native contributors who have expertise or experience in the topics or genres of the books they review.


What are some common problems and stereotypes found in children's books about Native Americans?




Some common problems and stereotypes found in children's books about Native Americans are:



  • The use of generic or inaccurate terms such as "Indian," "tribe," "chief," "squaw," "brave," "papoose," etc.



  • The depiction of Native Americans as a monolithic group that lived only in the past or as extinct.



  • The portrayal of Native Americans as exoticized or romanticized stereotypes such as noble savages, wise elders, mystical shamans, fierce warriors, etc.



  • The ignorance or minimization of the diversity, complexity and resilience of Native cultures and histories.



  • The appropriation or misrepresentation of Native spirituality, traditions, languages and stories without proper respect or attribution.



  • The erasure or distortion of the contemporary issues and realities faced by Native Americans.



What are some examples of books that are recommended or not recommended by A Broken Flute?




Some examples of books that are recommended by A Broken Flute are:



  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (Anishinaabe/Métis) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (Tlingit), a picture book inspired by the events at Standing Rock that celebrates the power and importance of water and activism.



  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) and illustrated by Frané Lessac, a picture book that follows a Cherokee community throughout their year and shows how they express gratitude for their culture, family and nature.



  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation) and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Peruvian-American), a picture book that celebrates fry bread as a symbol of family, history and diversity among Native Americans.



  • I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis (Nipissing First Nation) and Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland, a picture book based on the true story of Dupuis's grandmother who was taken from her family to attend a residential school in Canada.



  • Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe) and translated by Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation) and illustrated by Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe), a picture book that tells the story of a girl who dreams of a dog powwow where her pet participates in traditional dances and ceremonies.



Some examples of books that are not recommended by A Broken Flute are:



  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, a classic series that depicts Native Americans as savage enemies or vanishing relics of the past.



  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds, a Newbery Medal winner that portrays Native Americans as violent and bloodthirsty invaders.



  • My Heart Is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl by Ann Rinaldi, a historical fiction that misrepresents the experiences of Native children in residential schools and uses offensive language and stereotypes.



  • Books about Dreamcatchers by various authors, a genre that appropriates and commercializes a sacred object from the Ojibwe culture and presents it as a generic or universal symbol.



  • Books about Kokopelli by various authors, a genre that appropriates and distorts a sacred figure from the Hopi culture and presents it as a whimsical or romantic character.



Essays, Poems and Artwork by Native Contributors




What are the themes and topics explored by the Native contributors in A Broken Flute?




The themes and topics explored by the Native contributors in A Broken Flute are diverse and varied, reflecting their personal experiences, cultural values, historical knowledge and artistic expressions. Some of the themes and topics are:



  • The importance of oral storytelling and living stories as sources of wisdom, knowledge and identity for Native peoples.



  • The impact of colonization, genocide, assimilation and resistance on Native cultures and histories.



  • The challenges and opportunities of preserving and revitalizing Native languages, traditions, ceremonies and spirituality.



  • The diversity and richness of Native literature, art, music, dance and other forms of expression.



  • The contemporary issues and realities faced by Native communities, such as environmental justice, sovereignty, education, health, etc.



  • The resilience, strength, pride and hope of Native peoples in the past, present and future.



How do the essays, poems and artwork complement the reviews and living stories?




The essays, poems and artwork in A Broken Flute complement the reviews and living stories in many ways, such as:



  • They provide Native perspectives and voices that challenge and critique the common problems and stereotypes found in children's books about Native Americans.



  • They illustrate the diversity and richness of Native experiences, perspectives and expressions that are often ignored or minimized in children's books about Native Americans.



  • They offer insights and guidance for educators, parents and readers who want to learn more about Native American literature and culture.



  • They inspire and encourage Native children to celebrate their heritage and identity, and to create their own stories, poems and artwork.



They showcase the talent and creativity of Native authors, poets # Article with HTML formatting (continued) What are some examples of essays, poems and artwork from A Broken Flute?




A Broken Flute contains many examples of essays, poems and artwork from various Native contributors who share their personal experiences, cultural values, historical knowledge and artistic expressions. Some examples are:



  • "Open Letter to a Non-Indian Teacher" by Peter Blue Cloud (Mohawk), an essay that offers advice and guidance for teachers who want to teach Native American literature and culture in a respectful and responsible way.



  • "When I Look in Your Eyes of Darkness" by Elizabeth Woody (Navajo/Warm Springs/Wasco/Yakama), a poem that explores the complex and painful legacy of colonization and assimilation on Native identity and relationships.



  • "Deconstructing the Myths of 'The First Thanksgiving'" by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin, an essay that exposes and challenges the inaccuracies and biases in the popular narrative of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag.



  • "Carving a Dream" by Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo), an essay that describes her process and inspiration for creating a sculpture that honors her grandmother and her culture.



  • "Take Two Coyote Stories and Call Me in Your Next Lifetime" by Johnny Rustywire (Navajo), a story that uses humor and trickster logic to illustrate the power and wisdom of Coyote stories.



Conclusion




What are the main takeaways from A Broken Flute?




The main takeaways from A Broken Flute are:



  • Children's books about Native Americans are often inaccurate, incomplete or offensive in their portrayal of indigenous peoples.



  • A Broken Flute provides critical reviews that help educators and parents select and evaluate children's books about Native Americans in a more informed and responsible way.



  • A Broken Flute also offers insights and guidance from Native voices that can enrich and deepen the understanding of Native American literature and culture.



  • A Broken Flute showcases the diversity and richness of Native experiences, perspectives and expressions that are often ignored or minimized in children's books about Native Americans.



  • A Broken Flute inspires and encourages Native children to celebrate their heritage and identity, and to create their own stories, poems and artwork.



How can readers learn more about Native American literature and culture?




Readers can learn more about Native American literature and culture by:



  • Reading more books by Native American authors and illustrators, especially those that are recommended by A Broken Flute or other reliable sources.



  • Visiting websites, blogs, podcasts or social media accounts that feature Native American literature and culture, such as American Indians in Children's Literature, Book Riot, Reedsy Discovery, etc.



  • Attending events, festivals, workshops or webinars that celebrate or promote Native American literature and culture, such as Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers, Native Realities Press, National Book Festival, etc.



  • Supporting Native American authors, artists and publishers who produce quality children's books about Native Americans by buying their books, writing reviews, spreading the word, donating to their causes, etc.



How can readers support Native authors, artists and publishers?




Readers can support Native authors, artists and publishers by:



  • Buying their books directly from them or from independent bookstores that carry their books.



  • Writing positive reviews on online platforms such as Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, etc.



  • Spreading the word about their books to friends, family, colleagues, teachers, librarians, etc.



  • Donating to their causes or organizations that support them, such as First Nations Development Institute, Holland & Knight Young Native Writers Essay Contest, Lee & Low New Voices Award, etc.



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