Spotting Bias in Books & Materials


Adapted from the First Nations Traveling Resource Center and Oyate

1. Indigenous people are portrayed as caricatures. (Many mascots are examples.)
2. The word "all" is used rather than "some" when talking about indigenous people, or even a tribe. "Many" would even be better than "all." Scholastic book IF YOU LIVED WITH THE SIOUX INDIANS is an example.
3. First Nations people are depicted either as fierce or as "tree huggers." (The Disney movie POCAHONTAS would be an example as would THE LITTLE HOUSE series.)
4. White people "save the day." (AVATAR would be an example as are most books about Thanksgiving written from a European perspective.)
5. First Nations people are represented as "extinct." (Jane Yolen's ENCOUNTER would be an example.)
6. The customs and culture of one tribe are confused with the customs and culture of another, e.g. Teepees or totem poles show up in an Oneida village. (Pkayskool's Indian Village is an example.)
7. Text is written from a non-native perspective with no evidence of the writer ever having consulted with living members of the tribe represented. (Much of Paul Goble's work falls in this category.)
8. Research is based solely on books, particularly books from an European perspective.