Resources for Selecting Fair and Accurate American Indian Books for Libraries, Schools and Home

  • Learn to recognize the signs of subtle racism in books and other materials. In today’s climate, racism is not always blatant and easily recognized by people who aren’t targeted by it. Use the helpful resources below to develop awareness and think outside the ethnocentric box.
  • Read book reviews by American Indians and anti-bias advocates. Although ultimately you must make the decision of whether or not to purchase a book, these reviews can give you a good idea of whether or not a book is fair and accurate.
  • Use bibliographies of unbiased books about American Indians. Bibliographies are excellent starting points for building a comprehensive collection of American Indian books.
  • Support American Indian authors. They are the most under-represented group in publishing today. If you’re serious about authenticity, select books by Native writers.
  • Ask an American Indian. Ironically, Indians are often the last people non-Indians consult when buying American Indian books. Form relationships with American Indians who live in your community, and ask for their input about books they find offensive as well as their suggestions about what books to purchase.

Learn to recognize the signs of subtle racism in books and other materials.

Guidelines and Checklists:

Bias by Omission lists the criteria developed by a Canadian Indian organization to evaluate textbook bias in 1976. This is probably the best set of guidelines online for evaluating all materials – from children’s books to college level texts. Ten varieties of racist writing are detailed.

Questions to Ask when Selecting American Indian Books by Kay Marie Porterfield, co-author of the Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World: 15,000 years of Inventions and Innovations lists ten criteria for determining bias in non-fiction books for all age levels.

Techniques for Evaluating American Indian Websites by Elaine Cubbins provides good, solid suggestions in a checklist format for determining whether or not a website is authentic.

Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Books for Racism and Sexism by the Council for Interracial Books for Children

Articles and Information:

Rewriting American History: Does the Grade School American History Curriculum Reflect the Native American Experience? by Alison Wangness Clement analyzes representations of American Indians in textbooks from 1965 to 1995. Suggestions are offered about how to apply select unbiased textbooks for American History classes.

Build a Multicultural Library by Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac from the National Education Association

Fakelore, Multiculturalism and the Ethics of Children’s Literature, a paper by Eliot A. Singer, discusses how folk stories are taken out of the cultural context and altered by white authors so that they have little or no relationship to the original stories.

Paula Giese’s Philosophy, Purpose and Guidelines on the site the Anishinabe educator created before she died in 1997, is an excellent introduction to why unbiased educational materials are critical for American Indian and all students. Follow her links or click on the books menu button to find her thumbs-up and thumbs-down reviews of specific books.

Unbiased Teaching about American Indians and Alaska Natives in Elementary Schools by Floy C. Pepper includes a discussion on the role of accurate information, as well as common myths and information to dispel them.

Useful Sites for Tribal Librarians compiled by Elaine Cubbins contains a number of relared links

Read book reviews written by American Indians and anti-bias advocates.

Sources for Reviews:

Dancing Badger sells books. The site has well written and reviews of books written by Indians and those written by non-Indians that are unbiased.

H-Amind Book Reviews focuses on adult books appropriate for Indian Studies. The reviews that are posted here are sorted by author.

Multicultural Book Reviews is a site that has posted nineteen reviews of American Indian books. Although the site hasn’t been updated since 1996, the review that are posted are useful.

Multicultural Review, a must-have resource for teachers at all levels and for librarians, reviews of books for kindergarten readers to adults. This quarterly publication contains several feature articles in each issue.

Oyate is a grassroots American Indian organization that reviews books about American Indians written for children and adults. They post reviews of the books on their site and also sell books. A page lists books to avoid.

Independent American Indian Review contains information about contemporary American Indian nations (each issue centers on one nation) and reviews of books, CDs, tapes, and other media from American Indian perspectives. Back issues are available

Use bibliographies of unbiased books about American Indians

Bibliographies:

Internet School Library Media Center site written and maintained by Inez Ramsey, professor emeritus at James Madison University, contains bibliographies of children’s and young adult books as well as links to many good Internet sources of information about American Indians.

Ten Recommended Books for American Indian Studies selected by noted Anishinabe Webmistress and educator Paula Giese before she died.

Support American Indian Authors.

Links to Information about American Indian Authors:

Native American Authors Project from Internet Public Libraries contains bibliographic and biographical information about contemporary American Indian Authors as well as links to articles about them and interviews posted online. It is indexed by authors, titles and tribes.

Storytellers: American Indian Authors Online is a collection of biographies and bibliographies of contemporary American Indian Authors, their photos, and sites where their work is posted online. Authors are indexed alphabetically and by tribe.

Ask an American Indian.

Links to Indian Studies Programs, Tribes and Indian Organizations:

American Indian Education Association, formed in 1969, is the professional association for American Indian Teachers.

American Indian Higher Education Consortium is an association for tribal colleges. Their site contains links to member colleges.

American Indian Library Association is an affiliate of the American Library Association. Their website is maintained by Lisa Mitten.

Guide to Indian Studies Programs in the United States and Canada compiled by Robert Nelson, lists schools and colleges that grant degrees or certificates in Indian Studies by state. Information here is current as of the 2001-2002 school year.

Native American Nations Home Pages lists links to websites for both federally recognized and unrecognized tribes. It is updated frequently.

Tribal College, Native Studies Programs, and Indian Education Links compiled by librarian Lisa Mitten contains dozens of connections to tribal colleges, Indian studies departments, Indian Schools as well as Indian student organizations. Including a link to her list of all US and Canadian tribes and Indian organizations. She constantly updates these lists