How Children's Books Grapple With The Native American Experience

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tags: Native American history, teaching history, Childrens books




We're just a few weeks away from the presidential inauguration and an historic milestone. If confirmed, Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. She's been selected to lead the Department of the Interior. That's the agency that oversees the country's natural resources, national parks and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. So in honor of this historic moment and to start the new year off right, we thought it would be a good chance to learn more about the native nations experience.

And for that, we've called Aaron Carapella. He's the creator of Tribal Nations Maps. That's a site dedicated to mapping the lands that Native Americans lived on prior to European settlement. And he's recently launched a section of the site to highlight children's books focused on characters and stories rooted in the Native American experience. And he's with us now.

Aaron Carapella, welcome. And Happy New Year.

AARON CARAPELLA: Thank you. Happy New Year to you. And thanks so much for the invitation.

MARTIN: So let's start with your inspiration for this children's book project. You started out by mapping tribal lands as they existed before European settlers came to North America. So what inspired you to pivot to books?

CARAPELLA: Well, I generally almost daily get requests from teachers that are - have been requested to start Native American components in their classroom. And a lot of times, they're lost as far as resources and where to go. And so a pretty common question is, you know, what kind of Native American books would be appropriate? Which ones are accepted by native sources, are considered authentic by native authors?

And so I would kind of off-the-cuff answer people as those questions would come in. And over time, I kind of decided it was a good opportunity to create a list of books that are grade-level specific for teachers.

Read entire article at NPR

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