Native American picture books of change.

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Native American Picture Books of Change: The Art of Historic Children's Editions

by Rebecca C. Benes.

Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2004, 1st; with a Foreward by Gloria Emerson; sage green cloth binding, darker green endpapers, in red jacket with yellow titles and pictures, 9.25x11.75; 168 pp.

This fascinating and beautifully produced book describes the "Indianized" readers created during the New Deal, drawing on but changing, Dine, Lakota/Dakota, and Pueblo traditions, and illustrated by Native American artists. It is still possible to find these readers: they would make a fascinating collection. Gloria Emerson, a Navajo writer and artist, who founded the Native American Materials Development Center in Albequerque, writes in her long Foreward:

This book has something for everyone - those interested in the federal role in Indian education, the New Deal period, and the earliest significant Indian curriculum work funded by the federal government that sanctioned Indian-ness. It also examines the early uses of indigenous languages, public sentiments about Indian affairs from the 1920s to the 1940s, as well as the endorsement of Indian artists and indigenous languages and the hiring of linguists and writers sympathetic to Indian cultures. Bene's important research adds to our own understanding of how Native American histories were intimately intertwined with the federal Indian policymakers and administrator


Each chapter focuses on a particular theme from a period of time, illustrated by 2-8 books, and centering on the Indian Life Readers:

1. Telling Grandfather's Stories (20s)

2. Picture Books of Pueblo Life (30s)

3. Indian Life Readers: Pueblo Series (40s)

4. Indian Life Readers: Navajo Series (40s)

5. Indian Life Readers  Sioux Series (40s).

6. Indian Life Readers  Hopi Series (40s).

7. Native American Illustration at MidCentury (40s, 50s, and 60s)

8. Circle of Change.  (60s, 70s, and 80s)


These chapters are followed by an afterward, noting the effects of WWII on the program, the way the readers fell into disuse, and the emergence of Indian writers as welll as artists. The come Notes and ample references.

In  Appendix A: Selected Picture Books by Author

In Appendix B: Selected Picture Books by Artist

Then Index and Credits