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Monday, August 27, 2007

American Psychological Association Statement on NA Stereotypes

The APA's Justification Statement for the resolution reads, in part:

“It is especially difficult when American Indian peoples are trying to present their tribal identity as accurately as possible, to have the dominant culture employ symbols, mascots, images and personalities that depict American Indians in an inaccurate and offensive manner (Staurowsky, 1999; Pewewardy, 1991).”

Here’s another excerpt from the APA Justification:

“The stereotyping of any racial, ethnic, or religious group by other groups and social institutions—especially public educational institutions and educators—had the potential to teach children and youth that stereotyping of ethnic minority groups is acceptable (US Commission on Civil Rights, 2001).”

A lot of people are inclined to dismiss stereotypical images in a children’s book because “it is just a children’s book.” Others defend dressing up as an Indian, especially if the Indian is/was a real and heroic person (i.e. Pocahontas), arguing that such actions are informative to the person dressing up that way, and potentially to those who the person interacts with while dressed that way. And still others cite freedom of expression, first amendment rights, etc.

Read the APA document and consider what we do, as individuals who create, edit, publish, review, and purchase children’s books with American Indian imagery. You can read the entire statement by clicking here.