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Contrasting Collections: Indigenous Access to Literature for Young Readers

Ward, Jaclyn Lee (2021) Contrasting Collections: Indigenous Access to Literature for Young Readers. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Native American Peoples and other Indigenous Peoples have been portrayed with racial bias and the use of harmful stereotypes in literature and other media since early writings at the beginnings of imperial colonization. The issue remains pervasive in popular stories and public book collections today and impacts Native American youth in our communities. This study looks at the juvenile ebook collection of the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library (FCCCPL) at two points in time during the COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020 and in July 2021, to assess and compare content related to Indigenous Peoples. Through qualitative content analysis, this study also compares the content of the library collection with that of a collection of books from the Oyate website, a Native American collective and bookseller focused primarily on the interests of Native American communities and featuring mainly Indigenous authors. The study finds that the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library OverDrive collection of ebooks for young readers had significantly less potentially harmful content related to Indigenous Peoples in July 2021 than it did in April 2020, however the same types of harmful stereotypes and racial bias remained prevalent over time. In contrast, the Oyate collection provides a counter-narrative to the stereotyped representations of Indigenous gendered-identity common in dominant mainstream stories and positions readers to learn Indigenous values, traditions and languages, as well as Indigenous heritage and history, while the FCCCPL collection tends to convey Indigenous experiences vis-à-vis mainstream education. These findings reflect the need for critical literacy in environments for public learning and the transformation of colonizing, oppressive communication into something altogether new via a re-centering or a shift of perspective that embraces difference using a critical and humanistic lens. This research recommends that public libraries work toward more equitable Indigenous access to literary media that conveys Indigenous voices and perspectives.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Critical Indigenous Literacy; Decolonizing Praxis; Indigenous Access; Indigenous Authorship; Libraries; Native American Readers; Children's literature
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Sociology and Social Work
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2022 16:44
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 16:44
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5665

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