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Good morning,

My use of Pollock's ZUNI CINDERELLA as an example 
should not be taken as an endorsement or recommendation for the book.

It says it is a Zuni story (Zuni is one of the 19 
pueblos in New Mexico), but the findings in my 
analysis of the story show that there are many 
factual errors in this retelling of the story 
(the girl is characterized as an orphan, but 
orphanhood is not a concept that exists in Zuni 
culture; in the transformation, her clothes turn 
into Plains Indian attire instead of Pueblo 
attire; the insertion of European values of 
wealth and beauty), examples of bias and 
stereotyping (style of the prose and words used), 
and a change to the meaning of the story (for the 
Zuni's, it is about fossils on their lands, but 
in the retelling the turkey's become wild instead 
of domestic), and, the dramatic retelling of the 
story makes it align with the European Cinderella 
in ways that are not found in the way the Zuni people tell the story.

She used a particular source for her retelling 
(Frank Hamilton Cushing, an ethnographer who went 
to Zuni in 1879). Some of what is wrong with her 
retelling is due to her own changes/additions to 
the story, and some of it is due to her source. 
In some places he is hailed as a father of 
ethnography and participant observation as a 
method of study. In reading his writings, I am 
repeatedly saddened and shocked at the methods he 
used to obtain information and access to things 
the Zuni people guarded against, due to their 
negative experiences with the Spanish going back 
to the 1500s. His interpretations are from his 
perspective, and he says as much in his writings, 
but people still read and use them as "reliable" 
information about the Zuni's. There's been a lot 
of study about him and his work, a lot of it in 
the area of research ethics. There's an excellent 
book about differing perspectives on knowledge 
and control of knowledge. That book is Isaac's 
MEDIATING KNOWLEDGES. A fascinating study, it is 
about her work with Zuni, specifically about the 
tribal museum there, what can be displayed, etc. 
It is accessible (not full or jargon or 
academic-speak). I think it is an interesting 
book for librarians, given its focus on sharing knowledge and information.


Visit my Internet resource:
American Indians in Children's Literature

Debbie A. Reese (Nambé O'-ween-ge')
Assistant Professor, American Indian Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Native American House, Room 2005
1204 West Nevada Street, MC-138
Urbana, Illinois 61801

TEL 217-265-9885
FAX 217-265-9880

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