The Christian Science Monitor

Romantic or racist? Perceptions shift on 'Little House on the Prairie'

Source: Karen Norris/Staff

In Minnesota, Waziyatawin’s daughter came home from school one afternoon shaken and deeply disturbed by that day’s read-along.  

The book? “Little House on the Prairie.” Her mom says the then-8-year-old was upset by hearing her teacher deliver the novel’s phrase, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” When Dr. Waziyatawin, a Dakota historian with a doctorate in American history from Cornell University, petitioned the Yellow Medicine East District in 1998 to stop teaching the book in third grade, her request was rejected. 

In Kansas, Laura McLemore, who was named after the Little House series’ author Laura Ingalls Wilder, dedicates herself to preserving the legacy of the author, dressing up as the fictionalized Laura character to make the pioneer-era books come alive for school kids.

Laura as ‘feisty feminist’Reading, and teaching, critically 

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