Culture&Arts

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Name Removed From Award Over Racism Concerns

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Name Removed From Award Over Racism Concerns

"Only Indians lived there", implied that Native Americans were not people-in response, the publisher then changed "people" to "settlers".

The racial issues in her books have been debated long before February, when the ALSC announced it would be voting on whether to keep Wilder's name on its award, calling her legacy "complex". Wilder was presented the first award in 1954, after which it was named for her and presented every five years between 1960 and 1980, every three years between 1980 and 2001, every two years between 2001 and 2015 and annually since then.

"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 board said at the time.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prarie" books are a staple of countless American childhoods.

Harper's in 1953 made a decision to change "people" to "settlers" but other criticisms focused on her depictions of Native Americans and some African Americans.

In "Little House on the Prairie", Wilder wrote, "Their Faces were bold and fierce and awful".

Effectively, the name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children's Literature Legacy Award. Many years ago, in 1952, Wilder's word choice was called into question after a reader complained that a phrase used in Little House on the Prairie, "there were no people".

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

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.

The ALSC is part of the American Library Association, founded in 1876.

In the late 1990s, scholar Waziyatawin Angela Cavender Wilson approached the Yellow Medicine East School District after her daughter came home crying because of a line in the book, first attributed to Gen. Philip Sheridan but a common saying by that time: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian". The tales are so ingrained in the traditions of children's literature that it may be easy to forget or overlook that Wilder, who wrote the books in the 1930s and 40s, depicts Native Americans as inhuman and inconsequential. "For decades, her legacy has been awash in sentimentality, but every American ... should learn the harsh history behind her work".