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In this research, I evaluated the historical representation of Native Americans in children’s literature. The portrayal of Native Americans in children’s literature is important because Native Americans are commonly included within elementary school social studies curriculum. For this reason, teachers should know how the literature they select historically represents Native Americans. This historical representation includes—but is not limited to—their interactions with European explorers, colonists, and eventually Americans. Teachers must be aware that publishers of children’s books are businesses; their job is to sell books. As a result, these companies do not always ensure that the books they sell are historically accurate. In order to sell more books, publishing companies may potentially disregard historical accuracy, or historicity, by avoiding controversial topics. By doing so, the literature may not be representative of historical people and events. This ahistoricity could emerge in books about Native Americans that narrow their focuses to only include information about their culture, religion, or folktales and give little reference to the historical path they took from controlling North America to being isolated and marginalized. This ahistoricity could also emerge through the omission or significant minimization of accounts about violence. Historical misrepresentations can take many forms (Bickford, 2013; Williams, 2009). Heroificationand villainification each happen when one person is given entirely more credit/blame for changing history than is deserved. Exceptionalism emerges when an atypical, extraordinary historical figure is portrayed as typical. Presentism occurs when people view the past with their contemporary perspectives or with information of which the historical figures were unaware. Omission surfaces when important information is excluded from a historical account.
Hunt, Lauren, "Examining the Historical Representation of Native Americans within Children’s Literature" (2014). Student Honors Theses. 1.
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