Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Library

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Monday, January 26, 2009

New Books, and Controversial Topics

We have received a few donations of new materials, including a couple of new culture books for children. One of them, Joseph Bruchac's Hidden Roots, is a novel written for middle-schoolers about an Abenaki boy in upstate New York in the 1960s. It has been discussed on Nambé scholar Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature blog, both when it first came out, and more recently in connection with an extended discussion (or perhaps argument would be a more accurate word) about a recent novel for children about an Abenaki girl in Vermont in the 1930's, Beth Canell's Darkness Under the Water. Do you feel, as Reese and most native reviewers do, that books for children, even fiction, should have absolute cultural and historical accuracy?

For grownups, we lately received Stan Evans' detective mystery set in Victoria, Seaweed on the Street. And this too casts a light on the question cultural accuracy in fiction. Evans' protagonist belongs to a fictional Reserve in Esquimalt, and is identified as Coast Salish. The author tells us, in a note: "Depictions of Native mythology and religion are based on ethnological research and do not necessarily reflect the present-day observances and practices of the Coast Salish people." Is this better than trying to get it right and failing, or telling cultural material which tribal peoples might not consider public? Or is he only trying to protect himself from being accused of getting it wrong? It's a pretty good mystery, but hard to know what to think about how the author opted to handle it, especially in the light of the debate raging on cultural accuracy in children's books.

We also got a couple of really new DVDs, Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E. Don't forget, if you have DVDs around the house which you are not going to watch anymore, bring them to the library for other people to use!!!

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