Let’s Play Indians

Lets Be Indians - cover

Let’s Be Indians

This book is still in reasonable shape given its age, although it probably hasn’t been touched since I snagged it for this website. Maybe it slipped through the cracks on weeding since the call number on the spine was wrong.  (Weak excuse, but I will put it out there as a possibility.) Yes, I did find it in an active public library youth collection.  World Cat shows an embarrassingly large group of public libraries and school libraries holding this title. This book is so light on concrete information, they don’t even list distinctions among the native people.  They are all just Indians.  Time to retire this title, and for the love of God, how about some updated materials on native cultures rather than a marginal craft book?


Lets Be Indians - make a peanut child

Lets Be Indians - Introduction


  1. This was in the collection at my previous job and I can’t remember if I weeded it. (Cringe.) I remember holding it in my hands and feeling torn. It’s insensitive by modern standards, no question, and doesn’t offer any real information about American Indian culture, but the great author/illustrator team made me hesitant to discard it, even though I should have. I wonder if librarians are more inclined to keep it on the shelf because the author and illustrator are well-known and much loved than they would be if it had been written/illustrated by others.

  2. I personally think the illustrations are ugly. As an aside, I’m not sure if I would weed it either, unfortunately. ><

  3. I think I HAD this book as a child. I used to love to watch the old black & white Lone Ranger episodes and was utterly obsessed with anything even slightly “cowboy & Indian.”

  4. Wow! Arnold Lobel! I love that cute dog with the feather. I wonder if that kid glued it there. :S

  5. I don’t think there’s any place for this kind of book in a modern public library, and most weeding guidelines should point us to that conclusion . Seriously, it was published almost 40 years ago, contains misinformation, and is downright disrespectful. Regardless of condition, circ, or authors, it should go.

    Why not weed it and try to purchase better books about Native Americans that aren’t so misinformed? And if you’re especially a fan of Parish/Lobel, get a different book!

  6. It probably made it by for a long time because of Lobel and Parish’s names on it. Thank goodness they both have much better books to keep around 🙂 I love this website, by the way!

  7. I could see being conflicted about weeding this. Sure it doesn’t have useful information, but as a craft book, that’s not really its point. If you’re going to weed this, do it because it’s racially insensitive or not up to modern standards, not because it isn’t something it wasn’t meant to be.

  8. This title belongs in a historical archive, NOT in a public library. It’s outdated and insensitive. There is no shortage of good Parish and Lobel titles out there. It’s no brainer. WEED!

  9. I’m curious why people think this book is “insensitive” – is it the title? Because the Indians I know, and I do know a few, HATE being called “Native Americans” – they even wear shirts that say “INDIAN PRIDE” on them. Seriously, they hate the NA term as much as my mom’s best friend hates it when people call her “African American” rather than black.

    If it’s something other than the title, okay, explain it to me. However if it’s just the title then I’ll say what I say to people who insist on calling me Ms. Russell rather than Miss Russell which I prefer – Why don’t you just ask the people involved what they’d rather be called instead of just assuming?

  10. Am I dense or does “sew through the side of the shell away from where it opens” not make any sense? In what direction does a shell open? And whatever is wrong with “inside” or “outside” of the shell?

  11. @Jami – Well, the term “squaw” is a good place to start the discussion about why this should be weeded. It’s generally considered to be derogatory (which has led to the bowdlerization of many place names in this part of the country, but that’s another story). Also, there are wonderful craft books today that show kids how to do simple versions of actual native crafts, versus “let’s sew peanut shells together and call them Indians!”.
    As far as the “Indians” vs “Native Americans” debate goes, the current PC term is American Indian, but who actually says that? My friends who are of the native persuasion will accept “native” or “tribe”, but they self-identify with the name of their tribe. None of them are horribly bothered by “Native American”, though.

  12. I used this book as a child. My parents were members of the WMCA when it meant Young Men’s Christian Assocation. My mother founded the Y-Indian madiens in LA, Calif. I do not see any race-bashing, or that kind of crap. I see a book about crafts for children. I did not think it was a book about Indians, I thought it was a craft book for children. I did not see anything bad in it, I thought it was a book of crafts for children.
    let’s just have fun and forget about race-bashing and such. I still own this book and am proud to still use it.

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