Books / Race

The Whiteness of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Abagond

Laura Ingalls Wilder in “Little House in the Prairie” (1935) wrote about her White American girlhood on Native American land – Indian Territory. In the 1970s it became an American television series that ran for nine years (pictured). The book is widely regarded as “wholesome”, even educational, one that teaches history and the value of courage.

Yet it is pretty racist stuff:

  • Her family of white land thieves takes Indian (Osage) land without permission, yet whites are seen as Basically Good while Indians are seen as bad, wild and threatening.
  • Two characters say, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
  • Later in the book there is a good, still-living Indian: one who is willing to fight his own people to protect white settlers.
  • Ma hates Indians. So does Jack, the family dog.
  • Descriptions of Indians:
    • “wild” (18 times)
    • “savages”
    • “screeching dev-“
    • “Their eyes were black and still glittering, like…

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