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Oyate's Additional Criteria

As a companion to our previous publication, How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti-Indian Bias, and to assist our own evaluative work, we have compiled these further criteria.

LOOK FOR THE AUTHOR’S OR ILLUSTRATOR’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE STORY:

1) Does the author completely fabricate a story in the vague style of a Native legend?

Prioritize Books in which the author situates the stories in the context of her own culture and family.

 

2) Does the author fail to acknowledge or pay tribute to the source of the story?  

Prioritize Books in which the author acknowledges and honors the source of the story.

 

3) Does the author acknowledge a vague, unnamed “elder” to validate the story? 

Prioritize Books in which the author’s acknowledgment genuinely reflects her own relationship to the story.

 

4) Is the illustrator culturally disconnected from the story?  

Prioritize Books for which the illustrator is genuinely connected to the story.

 

LOOK FOR THE AUTHOR’S OR ILLUSTRATOR’S UNDERSTANDING OF THE STORY:

1) Does the author attempt to portray a cultural outsider’s version as having importance beyond the children’s book that contains the particular story?  

Prioritize Books for which the author understands and relates the deep significance of the story.

 

2) Does the author’s note obfuscate the origins of the story?  

Prioritize Books for which the author’s note clearly and distinctly tells the origins of the story.

 

3) Does the author rationalize major changes to a story?  

Prioritize Books for which the author adheres to the original oral story.

 

4) Does the author seek to justify a retelling from outside the culture by implying that the culture itself has disappeared?  

Prioritize Books for which the author honors the continuing existence of the culture and the life of the people from an insider perspective.

 

5) Does the author’s own cultural belief system overlay the belief system of the people whose stories are being told?  

Prioritize Books for which the author’s own cultural belief system honors the belief system of the people whose story is being told.

 

6) Is the author’s “humor” an arrogant, insulting, offensive or mean-spirited portrayal of the people whose stories are allegedly being told?  

Prioritize Books for which the author’s humor reflects the culture from which both the author and the story originate.

 

7) Is the author culturally disconnected from the story? Does the author try to make parallels with European-based cultures that do not in fact exist?  

Prioritize Books for which the author is genuinely connected to the story.

 

8) Is the author a cultural outsider with no ties to the story, other than having gone shopping?  

Prioritize Books for which the author is a cultural insider directly connected to the community being depicted.

 

9) Does the author use the word “story” or “tale” or “myth” or “legend” to minimize the importance of traditional oral histories?  

Prioritize Books for which the author accepts the validity of Native oral stories as true and legitimate tribal histories.


 

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