Monday, April 21, 2014

Genocide in Oz

I was researching Sioux history for my next YA book (Shaman) and came across a quote from Frank L. Baum (Oz) that floored me. In Chapter 6 of "Native American Tribes: the History and Culture of the Sioux" by Charles River Editors:

"Our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up with one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past."

Turns out that before he wrote children's stories, he was a newspaper publisher in the 1890's in South Dakota during the Indian Wars. This was from his editorial pouring salt in the wound of Wounded Knee.

From his Sitting Bull editorial  (which I quote from an NPR article by JJ Sutherland), he says, "The Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs... The Whites, by law of conquest... are masters of the American continent. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better they die than live the miserable wretches that they are."

I just read a 2004 CounterPunch article explaining the yellow-brick road as the path to the Black Hills gold territory. He was explaining political realities to children, including the opium use. In his book about Santa Claus, the chapter entitled "the Wickedness of the Awgwas" reviles a fallen race who are now only "earthen hillocks dotting the plain"...after the Wounded Knee massacre. This article also points out KKK parallels.

The only people to criticize him for this recently was the Times of Israel when the new Oz movie came out. Turns out that Baum converted to Theosophy, which is also antisemitic. They claim Oz painted Baum spiritual journey. Evidently, he was heavily edited to tone down his racism, including pictures and poems which were anti-African. His descendants have since apologized to the Sioux.

My conclusion: The wicked witch was probably just the wrong color and killed in her sleep by a guest. The winner wrote history.

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