Tribe helps rewrite national textbook on Quileute lore
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Emily Foster/Talking Raven
Quileute third-graders and their instructor show off some of the books donated to the school by McGraw-Hill Publishers in thanks for assistance with correcting the book Quileute Legends.
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The cover of the old edition of the book Quileute Legends.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

LAPUSH — An international textbook company has rewritten a children's book on traditional Quileute stories with the help of a Quileute teacher and the Tribal Council.

A freshly rewritten paperback book, Quileute Legends, will be released next year as part of the third-grade curriculum literacy book set after members of the tribe discovered errors in the stories that were distributed nationwide.

In preparation for the 2013 school year, Quileute School ordered a new set of books from McGraw-Hill textbook publishers as part of a curriculum overhaul.

When the order arrived, Quileute Tribal Council member Justin “Rio” Jaime, then the school's Quileute culture and language instructor, discovered that the third-grade reading packet included Quileute Legends, a thin paperback book written by New York author Yoko Mia Hirano and published in 2007.

“It was quite a surprise. We didn't know this book was out there,” Jaime said.

Jaime read through the short book.

“I don't recognize these stories,” he said.

The stories started and ended correctly but were muddled in the middle, Jaime added.

“It was like Jack climbed the beanstalk and ran into three little pigs,” he said.

The visuals also were similarly confused, he said.

The artwork in the book depicted Great Plains tribal imagery, and the ocean was depicted with Japanese art style waves .

Jaime brought the book to show to the Tribal Council.

“The illustrations jumped out at me. They were so generic. People don't understand that tribes lived in different areas and different types of shelter,” said Naomi Jacobson, Tribal Council vice chair.

In addition to inaccurate images produced for children unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest tribal lifestyles, it was a blow to teaching Quileute children about their own heritage, Jacobson said.

“We are trying to teach our children our history. It depicts us as a teepee tribe living on the Plains,” she said.

Jacobson added that the lessons taught to children across the nation have tended to focus on one type of imagery, and it has created an inaccurately homogenous view of Native Americans.

The Tribal Council contacted the textbook company based in New York City.

“They were very open to working with us to make it accurate” he said.

Attempts by the Peninsula Daily News to reach editors and the author at McGraw-Hill have been unsuccessful.

Hirano is no longer an author for McGraw-Hill, and Hirano's new publisher, McMillan, said it cannot help with a title that is not their own.

Jaime sent a collection of 16 traditional Quileute stories to McGraw-Hill editors for selection.

Two of the stories selected by McGraw-Hill for the new version of the book are the same as the originals but will follow Quileute tradition. A third was replaced.

New artwork that more accurately reflects Quileute clothing, homes and lifestyles was submitted to McGraw-Hill to illustrate the updated book.

There is no date set for the release of the new edition, according to McGraw Hill.

In recognition of the school's efforts to correct the error, McGraw Hill sent a gift of dozens of elementary school reference books to the Quileute Tribal School, he said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 24. 2014 7:56PM
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