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24 pages, Board book
First published January 1, 1991
The illustrator is not only not Indigenous but taught at a residential school (she calls it a boarding school, as white settlers complicit in cultural genocide do.)In fact-checking this, I found that Lavallee's website says, "I have lived in Alaska since 1970, when I moved here to teach art at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. Mt. Edgecumbe was a boarding school that served students from all over the state at a time when there were no village high schools. It exposed me to the various native cultures in Alaska. My experience there enabled me to see village live through the eyes of my students; the result is my idealized, stylized imagery that celebrates the joy, resilience, and the hard work that characterizes their lives."
I am torn. The publisher clearly knew the identities of the two creators was problematic. It was fact-checked by University of Montréal...
Reviews I've read by Indigenous teachers say they read the book with their students and point out the problems in the illustrations (multiple Indigenous cultures are represented in one character and imagery is inconsistently applied.)
I'm not sure what to think about the fact that this is a book about two Inuit people written by non-native people. The glossary of arctic animals, people, and customs in the back (and the rest of the book) seem respectful, but it does have a bit of that focus on native culture as "traditional" and in the past thing going on.and indeed the opening of the glossary says, "The Inuit in this story live in the northern part of Alaska, where they have lived for more than 9,000 years. In fact, there are even few roads. This book shows the way Inuit lived many years ago. Now most Inuit live in a way that combines the old and the new." (To its credit, the glossary does flag modern life in its blurbs -- e.g., "Traditionally, the Inuit depended on dog sleds to travel. Now, many Inuit use snowmobiles as well." and "The Alaska Inuit, however, generally only use snow igloos as temporary hunting shelters. They build winter dugouts of whale bone, driftwood, and sod. In the summer, they live in tents. Many Inuit now live in modern houses.")