(NatAm Brand)

Be$t $ellers, Prizewinner$

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Here we deal with books requiring more than simple panning. These have become children's classics -- best sellers, prestigious prizewinners -- found in schools, homes and libraries everywhere.

These are more than just bad books. They are a marketed mythics phenonenon contributing -- by the lasting influence of childhood impressions -- to a widespread false perception of history and of Indian people in today's world. They only look like books. They are effective weapons in the Longest War.

A preference for false to true, deliberate fakery, the creation of modern western "tmyths and legends" by treating Indian reality, Indian people, and often Indian religion as raw material. Those are all commonplaces. Treated here will be notorious fakes, pushed to the top of kiddie booklists by those who not only should know better -- they do know better. These are case studies, rather than reviews. They are medicinal, too, because the web allows us to find and link background, contextual, and alternative info sources that can partly remedy the early intellectual poisons.

Our first is Bro Iggle an' Sis Sky: A Message from Chief Investors, to be followed by Canada's revered fake Indian writer, Grey Owl, (my grandma knew him!) and letting the Indian outta the cupboard on Lynn Reid Banks, London children's writer who sold over 5,000,000 copies before even the Disney film came out in 1995. And The Education of Little Tree whose author wasn't a traditional Cherokee boy grown up to write of his trad upbringing back in the Smokies, but an all-white cynical Ku Klux Klan speechwriter, doing it for the money. How much more cynical, though, is a University press, that keeps reprinting it as "a true story by Forrest Carter" years after the embarassing fraud was exposed, with the dean of its law school no less, writing a preface treating this fraud as genuine: "Students of Native American life discovered the book to be as accurate as it is mystical and romantic," sez law dean Strickland. Well, we all know about lawyers.NuAge lawschool dean, whew!

Let me know, folks, what others you think should get this treatment. Not just lousy or fake, but really big sellers, found all over. And with that touch of establishment annointment.

If you've already explored the part of the menu dealing with an existing market$ 'n' myth$ book, jump to the next item (more are being prepared) with the down arrow to the right of each menu section's beginning.

BROTHER EAGLE, SISTER SKY: A MESSAGE FROM CHIEF SEATTLE, By Susan Jeffers (Dial Books for Children an imprint of Penguin, USA, New York: 1991). In Spanish: HERMANA ÁQUILA, HERMANO CIELO: UN MENSAJE DEL JEFE SEATTLE, Penguin Ediciones, NY: 1996. 32 pages, 28 paintings by Jeffers. "All ages, all grades" sez the publisher. Sold over 500,000 copies. Based on admitted fakery of history.

  • Jon Stott, Canadian professor of children's lit, summarizes the book, and sketches part of what's wrong with it. I take a crack at him, as a footnote.

  • Mug Shots and other Photos a few pot shots comments by me; chronology of how the historic Funeral Oration was processed into a saleable, trendy, environmental product.

  • The Fake Chief Seattle Oration an Aussie NuAger's version. He explains why the fake impressed him, years ago; shows some email he got about the fake.

  • Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream: The Real Sealth Thing No Web of Life, no Bro Iggle, Sis Sky, no ecology. Land of course, that's what Sealth's Funeral Oration (for his people) was actually about.

  • A Seattle (WA) librarian tries to sort out the stages and changes leading up to Baptist scriptwriter Ted Perry's 1970 fake

  • A short bio note on Sealth, with a string of quotes from The Real Thing. No "Web of Life" here.

  • Port Madison Suquamish Reservation, Suquamish, Washington. Some of Chief Sealth's people alive and at work today. Learn some real facts, see them trying (a page on this) to raise $ to tell -- via multimedia CDROM -- some real history, research and presentation both by and about Indian people

  • A RIVER LOST: A MESSAGE FROM GRANDMA TOOPA An alternative book selection -- environment, Washington (and Oregon and B.C.) As relevant as Jeffers for kid science reading, written-illustrated by Colville, WA Native people whose river. Ain't gonna sell no 500K copies...but if you're looking for something good, something usable with environmental science or culture/history classes, not for fakes and bankables, check this one out.

What about that big mosquito, the page logo? It's the frontispiece, drawn by Kahionhes (John Fadden), Akwsasne Mohawk artist, teacher, and museum curator. to a book Tales of the Iroquois, I and II, by his dad, Tehanetorens, Ray Fadden, respected elder who did so much, starting in the 1940's, to keep Mohawk language and culture alive among the then-young.

The book was compiled and published in 1976 by Akwesasne Notes Indian newspaper, which had then -- in the climate of Indian activism -- achieved a circulation (mostly unpaid) of 150,000 copies per quarterly issue, and was publishing some books by Native writers, poets, and historians as well. It is kept in print (starting in 1992) by Iroqcrafts, in Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. John could, if he wished, tell a tale that not only big white publishers are bloodsucking thieves on occasion...but that's another story and it's his story. He can tell it here, if he wishes.

When I was thinking about a logo for this section, it was along conventional lines, some sort of "international NO" symbol overlaid on Chief WAHOO or somesuch. But leafing through my own book of already-computerized Indian grafix, I came on the Big Bloodsucker, and the tiny human warriors grimly fighting it, with one slain, one being sucked dry. How appropriate! I thought to this section's theme. And in an ironic reversal, all I -- and others who care to send comments, reviews -- can do here is inflict an unnoticed mosquito bite (and a tiny annoying probably also unnoticed skeeter whine) on these Big Buck$ corporations with their giant sales apparatus, their thorough penetration of the EdBiz and trade booksellers' markets. Most likely unnoticed.

On the Main BookMenu, here, you'll see a "philosophy of this Native American (Indian, Inuit, Indigenous) BOOKS site." As with all book reviewing services, improving the breed is part of the job -- but there are much broader aspects to that for schoolbooks, books for young people about indigenous peoples, events, issues, As you can see, on the menu above, this section will also be offering 2 kinds of alternatives or correctives: relevant books and relevant websitelinks. Medicines for the early intellectual poisons.

And the little warrior shooting a probably-futile arrow: he's human-sized, but he has to shoot up from his stance of feet-on-the-ground, because the monster is so big. I think that's an approriate small logo, button, icon for this section, too.

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright -- Paula Giese, 1996. except where elsewhere attributed.

CREDITS: Little human-size warriors grimly fighting Bloodsucking giant monster mosquito by Kahionhes (John Fadden), Akwsasne Mohawk artist, teacher and museum curator, 1970. Computer-traced in FreeHand by me in 1993, colored and rasterized for these web pages. Buttons are extracts from it. Flint arrowheads-bordered background: by me.

Last Updated: 12/26/96