In eerily similar circumstances, young Navajo Americans were forced to relocate to attend boarding school where great attempts were made by the school to purge them of their ethnic identity, particularly their language. Both children’s books that are featured talk about harsh punishments for speaking in their native tongue. This forced relocation is not unlike the Japanese Americans during WWII. Is this really America, the home of the free?! This is the ugly underbelly that doesn’t get much press coverage. Am I the only one who didn’t learn about the Navajo Code Breakers at school in U.S. History? I am glad for these books to teach a new generation, and our nation, that the differences that make us unique make our country more powerful. Imagine if that boarding school were successful in wiping out the Navajo language? It’s really not inconceivable if the timing of the war were different!
This is part 3 of a 3 part series by Debbie Reese, renowned scholar of Native American Children’s Literature.
I am so excited to find these books lists by pre-eminent Native American Children’s Literature scholar, Debbie Reese. She has a wonderful website (listed on my blogroll), American Indians in Children’s Literature.
This appealing series is a fun and funny read with great illustrations by LeUyen Pham that really make the book come alive. Look and Pham have a winning combination. Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid can have another series to dig into! Hooray for that!
They say that history is written by the victor. In the case of the Native Americans, I would say that while the victors may allow the Native Americans a voice, but they certainly get a better distribution deal. And it’s strange that we, who grow up in the United States, and even study history in college know so little about the Native American heritage.