Monday, June 25, 2007

Caddie Woodlawn

The real Caroline Augusta Woodhouse,
from The Wisconsin Historical Society's site on Caddie Woodlawn

So I just posted a rather lengthy review on this 1936 Newbery winner here, over at The Newbery Project.

One of the parts that I didn't write about there (because you know, I've already gone on and on past many people's attention spans) was how Caddie and her brothers take this generic Indian item (a "scalp belt", which I have no idea if even existed among any Native peoples in Wisconsin) and re-name it and make a sideshow out it. It's a nice metaphor for the co-option of Indian culture by American society in general.

As an archaeologist working in the U.S., of course, I was accused of this and much worse. It's not so black and white (and red), though, and it's another point that could be discussed when kids read Caddie Woodlawn. How much have we progressed since its publication in 1935? Are media portrayals of Indians any better today, or are people just being politically correct and thinking the same old thing that their grandparents thought?

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