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Prejudice about Indians in Textbooks Kirkness, Verna J. 1976

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SPEECH BY  :: •  V  VVERNAVJ. KIRKNESS EDUCATION DIRECTOR BROTHERHOOD INDIAN NATIONAL —  V  TO THE  V VV:V  VSTNKIONS  21ST ANNUAL CONVENTION  kIOUSEOLAR,  LIDRR  /  or  THE  INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION MAY 10  -  1976  14,  ‘.  V  ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA V  j  V  V  V  TOPIC:  PREJUDICE ABOUT INDIANS IN TEXTBOOKS  V  V  Textbooks have for many years been the target of relentless criticisi. They are critiejzed for their tendency to present slanted “facts”, stereotypes and ethnocentric attitudes under the guise of “proven knowledge”;they are criticized for reflecting a white, midd1e—class society and for denigrating the contributions of minority racial groups.  consciously or unconsciously,  These books,  V  are believed to  promote, reinforce and perpetuate racial and ethnic bias.  -  4 criticism was to The publishing industry’s earliest response colour  white faces brown or black or to “write in”  Indian or other ethnic minorities.  Blacks,  Some Government Departments of  Education respond merely, by asking teachers to “cut—out” pages that have been identified as most objectionable. Clearly these efforts are insufficient. change in 8tructure,  What is needed is drastic  in substantive content and in methodology.  Books must realistically depict the pluralistic quality of society, both past and present.  Until this happens, textbooks will continue  to be the target of well—founded criticism. Fifteen years ago in 1961, the 7th Annual Indian and Metis Conference held in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada)  the following resolution was  passed: WHEREAS it has been brought to the attention of this Conference that authorized textbooks used in elementary schools, particularly the Social Studies courses, tend to promote a ptnnizing and 4aradina attitude on the part of white people toward Indians, and  .  .  .  /2  —2—  ‘  1  the use of such texts in Indian schools may WIIEt’EA harmfulto the Indian child’s sense of racial dignit and WHEREASsome sections of the texts deal inaccurately with Indian life, —  -  THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this 7th Indian and Metis cLLS Conference seek to have such school text book continued as are patronizing and degrading td Indians and to have new text books or revisions dealing with Indian life written with accuracy and sympathetic treatment.  “..  ‘  To substantiate the contention of the resolution, *the Education Committee of the Conference undertook to review a’number of social studies textbooks.  The review revealed that all history textbooks  were basically the same. “There are startling errors of omission as well as commission; the ancient Indian religious beliefs are always contemptuously dismissed; the authors find it necessary to repeatedly. point out the lack of clean— liness of the wigwams and the food while more important. virtues go ignored; and once we reach the period of Confederation there creeps in that smug—paternalism that so jzndermines Indian pride and imposes on him A verse either lethargy or.a destructive resentment. tesillustra Story a’s Canad from from page 37 of Pages the point. “Who calls? The Red Man, Poor and Sick He calls. Who comes? The White Man, Rich and Strong He comes. Who watches? To see that Pity Reigns, God watches.” (1)  Though the review substantiated the contention of the resolution, many of these books remained on the course of studies  for years  afterward. Is there a need to concern ourselves about prejudice in textbooks. Rupert Costo, editor of Textbooks and the American Indian made the following statement. ‘A’personhas” ‘Eveyone has the right to his opinion k has no textboo a But to be wrong. right the also truth, evade the to or lie, wrong, be right to falsify history or insult or malign a whole race of people.”  .13  —  3  :.  —  : It’is the’contention of Indian people that textbooks whichpa  and degrade Indians are harmful to their children’s  eense of  It is necessary for us to affect change,o counteraFt  dignity.  each and everything that is a deterrent to our educa-tional progress. We must ensure that honour is attached to our culturf our val our customs and our contributions.  If Indians continue to be por  trayed as savages, thieves, murderers and drunks, our educationa’l’ progress will forever be in jeopardy. I don’t know if textbook analyses  documenting biaé toward Indians  For.some provinces, it has had its impact and certain.  is the answer.  Some have even established  school textbooks have been discontinued.  committees with Indian representation to screen books before they become authorized for use in their schools.  Unfortunately, this  direction at present is an exception rather than the rule. During the lastdecade, several textbook analyses have been done. Teaching Prejudice by McDiarmid and Pratt selected 6 categories for a study of assertions. Moslems, Negroes  The six categories were Christians, Jews,  (Blacks), Indians and Immigrants.  chosen as the control group.  They found that Christians and Jews  were highly favoured and Negroes less so.  Christians weie  (Blacks)  and Indians were much  Terms most frequently applied to each group were, devoted  Christians, great Jews, hardworking Immigrants, infidel Moseims, primitive Negroes, and savage Indians. stereotypes, Indians.  In their study of pictorial  they selected Africans, Asians, and North American  The control group was white Canadians.  Indians emerged as the least  In this study,  favoured of all the groups.  They were  portrayed as primitive, unskilled, aggressive and hostile. The authors of this study, McDiarmid and Pratt state that: ei 2 roi hiriinori ty “The no Ontario social studies textbooks is the North American It is bad enough that any group should be Indian. subjected to prejudicial treatment, but the fact that Indians are the Native people of this country and that their children are required to read these texts compounds the immorality of such treatment.” (2)  .14  —4—  Earlier I mentioned a textbook study Manitoba in 1961.  In 1973—74, I was involved in another textboqk This  evaluation sponsored by the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood  study entitled The Shocking Truth About Indians in Text Books, was more extensive than the 1961 study.  It was a review of grades —  4 to 6 social studies textual materials. same objective in mind as the one in 1961.  It was do ne with the” 1 That is, if we can  document the biased and inadequate treatment of Indians, we can pressure the Department of Education to discontiri,ue certain text— books, and we can make publishers more responsiv’to demands for improved textual materials.  Content of social studies textual  materials was evaluated according to ten criteria. 1..  These were:  selecting information that reflects  Bias by Omission:  credit on only one group, frequently the writer’s group. 2.  Bias by Defamation:  calling attention to the native  person’s faults rather than his virtues and misrepresenting his nature. 3.  Bias by Disparagement  (disparagement:  something that  lowers a thing or person in worth or importance) :  denying  or belittling the contributions of native people to Canadian culture. 4.  Bias by Cumulative Implication:  constantly creating the  impression that only one group is responsible for positive developments. 5.  Bias by  (lack of)  Validity:  failing to ensure that infor—  •mation about issues is always accurate and unambiguous. (Ambiguous: 6.  having more than one possible meaning.)  Bias by Inertia:  perpetuation of legends and half-truths  by failure to keep abreast of historical scholarship.  •a “  7.  Bias byObliteration:  “1  ign’oring significant  native history. 8.  Bias by Disembodiment: sonalized way  referring in a casual  to the “Indian menace” or representing the  annihilation of Indian culture as part of the progress.”  and deper  “march for  —5—  Bias by  9  (lack of)  Concreteness  dealing with a race or  groupin platitudes and generalizations shortcomings of one individual concrete,  (applying the  to a whole group)  To  the material must be factual, objective and  realistic. 10.  Bias by all  (lack of)  relevant facts  Comprehensiveness:  failing to menti  that may help to form the opinion of  the student.  ‘  V  .:  Examples V  V  VV  V  Canada a New Land, By Edith Deyell  1)  VVVBiaS  by DIsembodiment:  Page 40  •  A few natives went home With him. They were souvenirs of his trip, as were the bright coloured birds, the tobacco plants, and the potatoes.  V  ‘  Note: V  V  The use of the word “souvenirs”  is in very poor taste. with Columbus.  In speaking of Indian people  The natives were not all  wanting  The following quotation clarifies  to  this point:  “Christopher Columbus initiated the enslavement of Native: Amen cans by Europeans in 1494 by sending  more  go  than  V  500 of them  to Spain to be sold.. 2)  Canada a New Land, by Edith Deyell Bias by Disparagement  Page 66 Perhaps the sailors made friends with the Indians as you would make friends with a puppy by offering something to eat. -  • V  Note:  This  type of example equating an Indian  derogatory and denigrates 3) $4I  with  a  puppy  is  the dignity of the Indian person.  Canada a New Land,  Li s by  iq 4 q  g  02  The Indians came pounding after them, waving their tomahawks and knives, and yelling blue murder.  Note: Here would be an  excellent opportunity  fighting strategy of the  various Indian  to comment upon  tribes.  the  The European  /6  —6--  •1  style  the marching lines,  the  brought failure to General Braddock..  Rep  (the bright red coats,  and drums)  he may have been by Indian warfare, it was effective.  So  effective were the surprise and ambush tactics that Braddock’s forces were dispersed and the General killed.  ,.F.rom.this lesson,  the British learned to adopt the Indian style of fighting. 4)  Canada:  The New Nation by Edith Deyell  Page 163  Bias by Defamation:  Heavily armed whi.skey smugglers from the United State, are crossing the border, and trading a terribThkind of whiskey to Indians for bufal skins, for ponies, and even for Half—crazed with this squaws. alcohol, which they gulp down at the trader’s wagops, the drunken Indians have no regard for life or property. They go wild and murder each other in brawls. Note: It would seem that the author regards skins and ponies as more important than  “squaws”.  There is rarely, if ever., a  balanced attitude towards the Indian people on part. way, 5)  the author’s  Their shortcomings are always pointed out in a degraing while the white man’s faults are hardly mentioned.  Fur Trade  -  (Jaclcdaw)  Bias by Disparagement: Exhibit 1 Years of bitter competition and training with savages numbed their finer sensibilities, so did sleeping with the only women in thousands of miles and “begetting bits of brown.” Note:  “Begetting bits of brown” is part of a quote made by Sir George Simpson. dehumanizing. “  Employment of it on the author’s part is  A change in lifestyle, philosophy and new  relationships should not be referred to as a”numblng” process and sleeping with Indian women does not “cure finer instincts”. Indian women were noted by European men for their beauty.  .17  :  —7—  6)  Indians of Canada  (Coles.Canadiana Collection:)  Bias by Disparagement: Exhibit  The Bourgeois willingly paidp’emium prices for top quality pemmican. They also scaled dn the prJ,,ps. paid for poor stuf unhappily. described by one of them: “Take scrapings from the dirt.et outside of a very stale piece of cold roast, beef, add to it lumps of tallowy, rancid fat ...then garnisi all with human hair.. .and short hairs from dogs and icen, and you have pemmican.”  V  Note: The real recipe. for pemmican precedes However,  this description.  the imbalance is effective enough for a child to re  member the “bad” pemmican.  By this manner, pemmican is down—  graded and the importance that it held as a main food is”mot understood.  Also reviewed was the evaluation coefficient analysis of words found in the grade six social studies textual materials.  The table attachec  as Appendix “A” lists the most frequently used positive and negative words. In 1974, “The Shocking Truth About Indians in Text Books” was pre sented to the Provincial Government.  To my knowledge, once again,  no official response has been made to the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood or no action has been taken by the provincial government to implement the recommendations of the report. It appears that to get action in regard to prejudice in textbooks, it will be necessary to act collectively on a national or even international basis.  There is enough data documented both in  ,Canada and the Unied.States to, demand action on ment Departments of Education and the publishing industry. A comparison of various studies indicate that:  —8— ‘S  text book researchers have tended to arrive at  1)  surprisingly uniform conclusions  on certain  general areas  Indians, by far, receive the worst treatmrt in  2),  •—‘.  ‘‘•‘  textbooks of any class of minority, either by omission or commission recent textbooks still contain prejudice but in a  3)  more subtle manner  3:.  Authors tend to use the same secondary sources for  4)  reference, therefore,  they tend to say the same  things. Though most of this discussion has centered around prejudice found in social studies textual materials it should not be construed to mean that prejudice does not occur in textbooks of other subject areas.  In conclusion,  I wish to, again,  refer you to the 1961 resolution  passed by the Indian and Metis Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada).  .4  The resolution is still valid and should be reiterated  by this 21st Annual Convention of the International Reading Association. WHEREAS it has been brought to the attention of this Conference that authorized textbooks used in elementary schools, particularly the Social Studies courses, tend to promote a patronizing and degrading attitude on the part of white people toward Indians, and WHEREAS the use of such texts in Indian schools may be harmful to the Indian child’s sense of racial dignity, and WHEREAS some sections of the Indian life,  texts deal  inaccurately with  THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED this 21st Annual Convention of the International Read4ng Association seek to  APPENDIX “A”  POSITIVE  +  ffND IAN  EUROPEAN  40  C 40)  great  15  (123)  ( 5)  happy  :l5  ( 38)  67  ( 5)  skillful  15  C 44)  gentlemen  66  C 0)  clever  12  ( 21)  6  strong  64  (10)  remarkable  10  C  7  honourable  52  ( 3)  strong  10  (. 64)  8  courageous  47  ( 0)  able  6  (  6).  9  determine  46  ( 5)  admirable  6  (  9)  skillful  44  (15)  eager  6  ( 41)  123  (15)  good  79  ( 5)  3  successful  70  4  brave  5  1  great  2  10  friendly  .  NEGATIVE  3)  —  INDIAN  EUROPEAN  1  bitter  50  ( 7)  savage  62  ( 8)  2  angry  43  ( 8)  hostile  30  C 4)  3  quarrelsome  36  ( 4)  squaw  20  ( 0)  .4  disgrunted  26  C 3)  raiding  18  (24)  5  threatening  25  ( 9)  6  raiding  24  (18)  massacre  13  ( 4)  7  failure  22  ( 3)  drunk  11  (10)  8  fearful  20  ( 3)  howling  11  ( 3)  9  mob  17  ( 1)  unfriendly  11  C 4)  terrib le  16  (  4)  .  wan  NUMBERS IN PARENTHESES  NUMBERS IN PARENTHESES  SIGNIFIES  SIGNIFIES EUROPEAN  INDIAN  FOOTNOTES  (1)  Education Conimfttee of Indian and Metis Conference, Stib to the Curriculum Revision Committee, Manitpba Depart,gj of Education, Community Welfare Planning C&uncil, Winn’ipeg, Manitoba, 1964.  (2)  McDiarmjd and Pratt, Teaching Prejudice, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1971.  BIBLIOGRAPHY  Costo,  Rupert, Textbooks and the American Indian, Press, Inc. V.a. (1970)  Indian Historian  Indian and Metis Education Committee, Survey of Canadian History Textbooks, Community Welfare Planning Council, Winnipeg, Canada (1964) Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, The Shocking Truth About Indians in Text Books, Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, Winnipeg, Canada (1974) MeDiarmid and Pratt, Teaching Prejudice, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, (1971) Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Textbook Analysis, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Halifax, Canada (1973) Ontario Ministry of Education, Bias in Textbooks Regarding the Aged, Labour Unionists, and Political Minorities, Ontario Ministry of Education, Toronto, (1975)  


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