Very well done. The Treaty of 1825 established the Osage Diminished Reserve, a section of land about 50 miles wide and 125 miles long in what is now south-central and southeast Kansas. In Little House in the Big Woods, the Ingalls family lived in a cabin (the place where Laura was born) near Pepin, in west central Wisconsin. Two years later, Little House on the Prairie appeared on the shelves. It might already be open to settlement. Reading them for the first time in years I am once again reminded of the fact that 2019 is vastly different than the 1880s. Five more books followed that took the reader through Wilder's courtship and marriage to Manly: On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937), By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939), The Long Winter (1940), Little Town on the Prairie (1941), and These Happy Golden Years (1943). In 1932 she published Little House in the Big Woods, which was set in Wisconsin. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE® and associated character names, designs, images and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks owned and licensed by Friendly Family Productions, LLC. She used these connections and her own farming experience to begin writing columns for the Missouri Ruralist and, later, McCall's magazine and The Country Gentleman. It’s not my place to judge or justify them…but rather, to understand them from their perspective, to learn from them and mostly to enjoy the stories. As an adult I have always read the books with a historical perspective and as being a product of their times. Teaching at Age 15 In Little Town on the Prairie, we read how Laura earned her teaching certificate when she was just 15. These books explore different areas of Wilder’s life and work, often bringing new and unexpected interpretations to a wide range of topics. The very thought of Indians made her blood run cold. Learn about the writer behind the beloved books that inspired the hit movies. An educator since 1983, Laura McLemore was destined to a lifelong love of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The episode I was watching was about “ their Indian friend” A three generation family in Walnut Grove with a grandson is half Native American Whether Pa knew this or not is open for debate, but it is highly unlikely that he would have been ignorant of this fact. The Indians in the area saw this as an opportunity to retake land that they felt belonged to them. What did we come to their country for, if you don’t like them?”; But why was Ma so afraid of the Osage? Discuss how it would feel to have strangers walk into their home uninvited and take whatever they wanted. Few musicians remain as beloved and revered as the late Bob Marley, whose music continues to inspire and influence music, fashion, politics and culture around the world. Ma saw it as an intrusion by uninvited guests. Learn little-known facts about the man behind the theory of evolution. It also hosts an annual celebration to commemorate its favorite and most famous resident. All rights reserved. My conclusion is that Australia has its own entrenched history of displacing indigenous (Aboriginal) people that by the time I read the books when I was about 8 years old I just never questioned it. Finally, an article about the 1862 Sioux Uprising and how it relates to Little House! Her mother read Little House in the Big Woods in second grade and named her second daughter after the beloved author. I remember feeling the fear of the unknown as the natives came into the cabin, the curiosity of the different as Laura rushes in to see them, the sadness she felt when watching them march along and away, and the pride she had when she tanned like “an indian” by ignoring her frustratingly restrictive bonnet. The Osage saw it as collecting rent. Filed Under: History, Learning Tagged With: Books, History, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie. Laura lives in the little house with her pa, her ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack. I never read racism into the words, but I also knew, even at my young age, that times were different in Laura’s day. Having married Almanzo “Manly” Wilder in 1885, she used the byline Mrs. A. J. Wilder for her first paid writing job in 1910, which was as the poultry columnist for the St. Louis Star Farmer. Wilder mentions the “Minnesota Massacre” in her account of Mrs. Scott’s hatred for the Osage: “The only good Indian was a dead Indian. Learn about Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Little House in the Big Woods is a children's novel. Little House in the Big Woods was published in 1932 by American author Laura Ingalls Wilder. We cannot forget these books were written in a time where this was the norm. I grew up reading the books and I still read them since it offers a glimpse into a world that we just can’t experience. From the perspective of the Indians, I’m sure it seemed like a righteous resistance. I would strongly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown and read the chapter on “Little Crow’s War” for a better understanding of the Dakota uprising in Minnesota. There have been many fascinating books written about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter and editor Rose Wilder Lane. I enjoyed it vry much. Lane's exact role in her mother's famous series of books has remained unclear, but she certainly encouraged Ingalls. The Little House books are among those. The chapter about “Little Crow’s War” provides important context to the Dakota uprising in Minnesota. The Ingles family welcome and embrace the native boy and his mother with open arms Little House in the Big Woods is the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life living on an 1800’s frontier with her homesteading family. Dr. Laura McLemore as Laura Ingalls Wilder. As an adult I find that really sad. Other worthwhile books are Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862 edited by Gary Clayton Anderson and Alan R. Woolworth and Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 by Duane P. Schultz. Based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the award-winning Little House series, which has captivated generations of readers.This edition features the classic black-and-white artwork from Garth Williams. Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House in the Big Woods, the first of her well-known Little House series that eventually spawned the hit TV program Little House on the Prairie, in … Excellent work! Take a look at author A.A Milne's life and how his children's book changed his life — for good and bad. December 7, 2018 By Laura McLemore This may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission on purchases. Since that time she has shared Wilder’s life across the Midwest. ), the books on which the series was based had made Laura Ingalls Wilder one of the most influential children’s authors in American history. Whatever a massacre was, it was something that grown-ups would not talk about when little girls were listening.”. I came to this post exactly as one of the readers you described: an adult revisiting a beloved childhood story …then coming upon “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” My knee jerk reaction was “okay scratch this of the list to share with my future kids!” But you are completely right: Ingalls’ work is a great platform to discuss racism and xenophobia. He freely cut logs to build a house, hunted wild game for food and furs, dug a well and broke the land for farming. To punish Laura Ingalls Wilder for not keeping within the standards of acceptability in 2020 shows lack of perspective and education. And yes, while there is more cultural and political sensitivity today, it does us no good to compare the mores of the 19th century to those of the 21st. Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Baby Carrie live in a log cabin in the big woods near Pepin, Wisconsin, in the 1870s. (On December 30, 2014, the South Dakota Historical Society Press published Wilder’s complete first draft of her own story — all 472 pages — as Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography.). And of course, she was writing historical fiction, not an autobiography. She was not racist. I agree with them completely. This footnote explains that when Wilder introduced her nickname in Chapter 2 of Little House in the Big Woods, it had become “little half-pint of sweet cider half drunk up.” Even when she was fully grown, Wilder was only 4 feet 11 inches tall; however, that was not considered exceptionally short for women of that time. When most of the settlers arrived in Indian Territory, the Osage people were off on their annual hunting trips further west and it may have appeared that the land was unoccupied. Laura, you never fail to amaze me. Re-naming an event does not give one side or the other greater legitimacy. I got here because I was just watching LHOTP and wanted to see the map of walnut grove We may feel today, given our 21st-century sensitivity, that Ma was wrong to fear the Osage or that Mr. and Mrs. Scott were racist. I love those books. What happened with Native Americans is just horrible and sad, but I say that with both a European lineage AND a Native American lineage. Little House in the Big Woods is an autobiographical children's novel written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and published by Harper in 1932 (reviewed in June). Told from four-year-old Laura's point of view, this story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. The Sioux Uprising or Dakota Wars resulted in the looting and burning of homesteads and the killing of white settlers in the area, including women and children. But, we must remember, this was before the Internet. I never thought her remarks about the Indians were “racist” as I was seeing them through the eyes of another naive 8 or 9 year old girl. Undeterred, she spent the next several years working on her memoirs, asking relatives for their accounts of what happened during her childhood years and changing the story to the third-person perspective. These things should not be swept under the rug or ignored. Home School in the Woods provides hands-on resources to help teach history in a more engaging way, from lap books and notebooking pages to 3D projects, mapping, timelines, recipes, radio theatre and more. In the early pages of Little House on the Prairie, Laura quotes Pa as saying that animals wandered “in a pasture that stretched much farther than a man could see, and there were no settlers. Yes, times have changed, and attitudes for the most part have changed, but one should never try to change history and what life was like back then. Farmer Boy, published in 1933, covered Almanzo's childhood in New York. The Little House Series. But I suggest that rather than banning books or refusing to read them, we use them as a platform for examining the history of the United States. In 1909, Rose moved to San Francisco where she worked as a writer/reporter for the San Francisco Call. Although the land that Pa chose was obviously next to a well-used trail, he preferred to think of the land as unsettled. McLemore portrayed Laura Ingalls Wilder for the first time in 1993. I’m glad to see it addressed. “Minnesota Massacre” is about the most racist and blatant one-sided take on the 1862 Dakota Conflict you can find, its an old an sensationalized text that should not be taught to children. This past year my class talked about the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the media’s portrayal of events there. Loved: “What better way to learn our history than by reading a classic like Little House on the Prairie and using it as a platform for discussion?”. Learn about the woman whose autobiographical books inspired "Little House on the Prairie.". The theme that runs throughout Little House in the Big Woods is that life is hard and serious work, but that it's OK to have fun at times and important to keep a twinkle in your eye. Referring to something by its known name is simply good communication. The questions then arise, is this because Wilder is culturally insensitive or is she simply writing from her perspective, having been born in 1867 and writing in the 1930s? I already knew that was just what had happened. © 2021 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. Since that time she has shared Wilder’s life across the Midwest. 5 out of 5 stars 2,145. But, to understand Laura’s story, we must understand the history behind the story. Who knows, in 150 years, maybe 2020 will be considered offensive and unacceptable. As an adult I cringe when I read the books but I have to remind myself that society has made progress and I’ve grown as a person to recognize racism. Laura Ingalls Wilder was sixty-five when she published Little House in the Big Woods, a novel for young readers inspired by her childhood in the Big Woods of … Great article. The newspapers were full of graphic accounts of what was then referred to as the “Minnesota Massacre.” Undoubtedly Ma had read these accounts. 4.5 out of 5 stars 2,145. “As a 9-year-old child, I had read the ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ and then I got the show and then my focus was the scripts and where we were going with that for 10 years," said Gilbert. In late 1862 during the Civil War, many men left their families in Minnesota to fight in the war. My mother read them to me when I was a child. Most act on the belief that they have the moral superiority. Well before fans began tuning in for their weekly fix of Ma, Pa, Mary, Half-Pint, Carrie and their Walnut Grove neighbors (Nellie Oleson, give us a smirk! This is the second year I’ve taught Little House on the Prairie in my 5th grade class and it has opened up some very frank and meaningful conversations about prejudice, racism, and historical context. If we haven’t met, or heard the good things, about a certain race, or someone from Autres temps, autres mœurs. At this time, she began using the androgynous pseudonym A. J. Wilder to give her work more credibility among male readers. They could not know because Washington was so far away.” Pa was most likely betting that the government would allow squatters to claim homesteads once the Osage were removed. We don’t all think alike, nor do we always agree with others’ views of our world. And , let’s not forget that there was a black woman in Little House on the Prairie as well (again I am referring to the TV show not the books) she was either a schoolteacher or a helper at NELLY’s restaurant I forgot which but she was well respected and loved in the show However, beginning in 1808, the Osage tribe ceded several tracts of land to the United States government. Additionally, it is helpful to point out that Wilder presents a more favorable point of view using Pa as a counterpoint. Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Historic Museum. We cannot and should not rewrite history. Readers learn how her family had to live and survive in a little log cabin during pioneer times. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862, Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, documentary film about Laura Ingalls Wilder. You use your remarkable, God-given talent for writing in such interesting ways. Frankly, I love to meet people from other countries, learn their ways, and for the most part, taste “their” food. Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, 1867–1957.American author. Laura, this is a wonderful response to the racism in the books. She married Gillette Lane in 1909 and became Rose Wilder Lane; the marriage ended in divorce in 1918. There is the truth as Laura wrote in her books and there is the truth of her real life. That myth first takes flight in “Little House on the Prairie.” Wilder depicts the family arriving in virgin Kansas territory, but, as the real-life Pa surely knew, the Ingalls were squatters. It was published in 1932. Times change. Before we begin to read the book in my classroom I take a few moments to talk about Wilder’s real life and the historical accuracy of her books. Another country, we are sometimes Leary. I think they are jaded by how very tough pioneer life was. Very good insight to these books. This is the perfect activity to go along with the book, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We usually think of Oklahoma as being Indian Territory. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a story that tells of Laura’s early childhood and upbringing in Wisconsin during the 1870s. Based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods . In recent years the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder have been accused of being culturally insensitive and even racist, particularly Little House on the Prairie. Ongoing correspondence between the women concerning the development of the multi-volume series supports a mutual collaboration that involved Lane more extensively in the earlier books, and to a much lesser extent by the time the series ended. It told the story of her early childhood years in Wisconsin and was a huge hit with readers. It’s just like people were, and some still are, afraid of those who ride motorcycles. We understand now that it was wrong. The book takes place from 1869 to 1870. I don’t care who you are or how mad you can be at someone but killing women and children and babies YES babies, makes it a massacre! This is history folks, good, bad, and ugly. She did not have information at her fingertips. We can explain this to children as we read the books. Congress refused to ratify the Sturgis Treaty, fearing a backlash from their constituents who favored free settlement of the land under the Homestead Act of 1862. She also recognized that an American public weary of the Depression would respond warmly to the story of the loving, self-sufficient and determined Ingalls family overcoming obstacles while maintaining their sense of independence, as told through the eyes of the spunky Wilder as she matured from ages five to 18. This book tells about the adventures Laura and her family enjoy while living on the homestead and gives a glimpse of what their daily life was like through the eyes of … Fear, is in the mind, caused by the “unknown”. Now the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Historic Museum in Mansfield, Missouri, the site claims to have the most comprehensive collection of Ingalls/Wilder memorabilia. I have the whole collection of Little House on the Prairie books. Little House in the Big Woods: Summary & Setting | Study.com In 1868, the Osage were facing dire economic circumstances. People need to be aware of the times of which they are reading, but to blatantly call it racism, seems inappropriate as well. Due to illnesses and crop failures, Rose’s childhood was defined by a series of moves and she would go on to travel extensively for most of her life. What do readers need to know when reading Little House on the Prairie? Written by a fine education. Her lively retelling of experiences from her childhood in the historical fiction series helped shape the popular idea of the American frontier. NELLIE OLESON WASN'T A REAL PERSON. Do you decry the author as a racist and vow to never read another word? Motorcyclist are ordinary, people. Laura Elizabeth Ingalls is born in “the little house in the Big Woods” outside of Pepin, Wisconsin. To read the thoughts, beliefs and experiences of people who once were alive and living their lives every minute of every day is fascinating. Since I learned that story, I’ve understood Ma’s feelings better and why they make sense given the time in history. Laura’s stories come from an oral tradition. Her mother read Little House in the Big Woods in second grade and named her second daughter after the beloved author. After writing Farmer Boy (1933), a book about her husband’s childhood, she published Little House on the Prairie (1935), a reminiscence of her family’s stay in Indian Territory. The story is illustrated by Garth Williams, whose drawings of the Ingalls family are often considered iconic and an integral part of the reading experience. It was written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My ancestors are survivors who fled to New Ulm. The story of Almanzo … I remember as a girl listening to my parents read these books to us as kids. She shares the cabin with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their lovable dog, Jack. What a breath of fresh air in these tumultuous and divisive times. Nice refuge from parents who fought all the time. This article made me question why I had never questioned the reason the Ingalls Family settled on land that didn’t belong to them, even when I was a child and didn’t have a great knowledge of history. I am now 72. It is appropriate to call it that because that’s what it was. We invite you to visit our Recommended Reading section to find books for children and young adults and for adults. Learn about the German brothers who made some of the most popular fairy tales of all time. Imagine you are reading a book that you loved as a child, perhaps you are reading it to your young child, or that you are reading it for the very first time. I applaud you for stating that rather than ban the books it is better to introduce children to historical books and talk about the views of the times and what progress has been made and what we need to do to continue to combat racism in our society. This story held no intention of racism. I never really found any thing really racist in the books. Historical Perspective or Racism in Little House on the Prairie. The stories in the books are told through the eyes of an intelligent, curious, answer seeking young girl who lived a life none of us are now living. After her mother's death in 1957, Rose did edit and publish several posthumous works (including the last of the series, The First Four Years, about the beginning of Wilder’s marriage to Almanzo, which she based on her mother's diary). I remember traveling across country in 1953 and having no air conditioner in the car. Learn about one of science's most intriguing geniuses. In Little House on the Prairie Ma tells Laura that “Pa had word from a man in Washington that the Indian Territory would be open to a settlement soon. If we do not know the true history of our nation’s/culture’s past, how can we prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes? There was nothing to fear from Indians.” Later Pa balances Mr. and Mrs. Scott’s hateful declaration when he makes this statement about Soldat du Chêne: “That’s one good Indian.’ No matter what Mr. Scott said, Pa did not believe that the only good Indian was a dead Indian.”. Pa is portrayed as being slightly more accepting of the Indians. The grandfather is racist the mother was a missionary who fell in love with a native And of course every treaty the U.S. Government made with Native Americans was never upheld. Your email address will not be published. Interesting article. The first in a nine-book series, the autobiographical narrative relates the story of a family of homesteading pioneers living and laboring in Wisconsin. Does racism still exist and if so, is it found in every race? It always holds a little fear, a little curiosity, a little empathy, and a little emulation. Only Indians lived there.” As did all of the settlers, Pa chose to ignore the fact that the land and everything on it belonged to the Osage people. I when I was reading “Little House on the Prairie ” for the first time as a young girl about 22 years ago, I was concerned about Ma’s prejudices. The following two tabs change content below. To strip her name off an award because she would be considered racist today is unfair. These kinds of questions will help children understand the historical perspective and that right or wrong, people have their own belief systems, then and now. It is the first book in Wilder's Little House series. These books should be read, shared, discussed now and with future generations. I created this notebook to aide during my read aloud sessions last year to help the students comprehend the text. In order for readers to understand Ma, you need to understand where she was coming from. Thank You! The family fills pans with fresh snow and Grandma Ingalls ladels syrup onto them. I have books from my childhood that I read to my kids. Laura says “They drove away and left it lonely and empty in the clearing…They were going to Indian country.” But, they didn’t go there directly. Wilder's first attempt at writing an autobiography, called Pioneer Girl, was uniformly rejected by publishers. I have read them so many times! Laura tells several stories of Indians coming to the Ingalls’ home and demanding food and other goods. You come across the words “the only good Indian was a dead Indian.” Do you put the book down in horror, shocked by the cultural insensitivity of the author? Because, of what they read, and heard about “The Hell’s Angels”. All if it was cold blooded murder! To this day it makes me sad that Native Americans were forced onto reservations where they were basically starved, cheated and forced to give up their traditions, native tongues. When I was 8-9 in the ’70’s, my mom read the books to me, and I re-read them many times myself. We certainly enjoyed the TV show. Little House in the Big Woods takes place in 1871 and introduces us to four-year-old Laura, who lives in a log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. There are two sides to the 1862 Dakota Conflict, the Dakota were starved by their Indian agents and were placed in a concentration camp for a year pending trial. As Amy Fatzinger writes in her dissertation Indians in the House, Wilder raises “a great issue that was still problematic in the 1930s, when Little House on the Prairie was written and remains so today: the Euro-American preemption of lands occupied by Native Americans.” And, Wilder uses the voice of 7-year-old Laura to do so. Don’t make it a big thing and it won’t be. Although her Little House books are now considered classics, Wilder’s literary career has its roots in a chicken coop. Under the provisions of earlier treaties, the Osage had the right to charge squatters rent if they wanted to. While researching for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, I knew readers (young and old) might be a bit confused about Laura Ingalls earning a teaching certificate before even graduating from school. How else would we learn about the conflicts, thoughts, and outcomes of these situations that will occur in all our lives; all of them shaping history? If there’s a villain in the Little House books, it’s Nellie … Ask if people have an unjustified fear of other races today. Learn about the Jewish refugee whose painting of her aunt was stolen by Nazis and inspired the 2015 movie starring Helen Mirren. Most fear of someone “different”, or another color, than ourselves, is because people are afraid, of the unknown. The kids act racist in school is the first book in the award-winning Little House series, which has captivated generations of readers. Farmer Boy. This is where they finally settled down and where Wilder wrote her books. As we read Little House, we stop often and reflect on the similarities and differences between the main characters, their families, and their life styles. Thank you for this article! Wilder lived in rural Missouri, far away from libraries or universities with large reference sections. Your comments are very interesting. Little House in the Big Woods kicked off the series in 1932 and Farmer Boy, an account of Manly's childhood in New York state, followed in 1933. I find it appalling that people fail to understand cultural relativism and how it may be used to better understand history and the interaction of cultures. Charles Ingalls sold his farm in Wisconsin in 1868. The Ingalls family was part of the wave of squatters or illegal settlers who entered and established homes in Montgomery County. If anything I felt it embodied the exact opposite. He moved his family first to Chariton County, Missouri and then on to Montgomery County, Kansas in late 1868 or early 1869. 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Film about Laura Ingalls Wilder for the first time in 1993 the legend that go well beyond his fruitful.! Writing an autobiography 1933, covered Almanzo 's childhood in the Big Woods, was... Appropriate for all ages publishing world and was a storyteller and Laura herself that... House in the area syrup onto them trademarks of a family of homesteading pioneers living and laboring in in! Product of their times Ingalls ’ bulldog, hated the Indians, Ma…This is Indian,... Them to me when i was about 12 or so its favorite and most famous resident s were.