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Sensitivity Readers, Cultural Considerations, and Legends of the Lost Causes

I’ve never really commented on the recent news articles and discussions about sensitivity readers and their work with children’s books. I suppose that’s just because they make a fair amount of sense to me. If you’re writing about someone unlike yourself, you should be told up front what you are doing wrong with the portrayal. Just seems logical. So, when the middle grade novel Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester came out I didn’t think too much about it. The book incorporates some aspects of the Osage Nation’s culture but the book was blurbed by a director of the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center. So I just assumed some vetting was involved.

On March 16th Debbie Reese posted a critique of the book on American Indians in Children’s Literature. In the piece she noted the blurb and wrote, “I wonder, though, if they were given the whole book? Or just the snippets about Osage culture? We don’t know. I also wonder if anyone who is Abenaki (or who has expertise about Abenaki people) was asked to look over the Abenaki parts?”  She then asked other questions about the choices made in the book.

Fast forward a month or so and the folks at Macmillan had an interesting query for me. Would I like to interview one of the authors (Brad McLelland) and Ms. Hudgins about the book? They gave me a little additional information about her. In addition to overseeing the day to day operations of the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center (including staff management, financial and administrative reporting, and cultural enrichment activities) she is a member of the Osage Nation and has knowledge of Osage culture and traditions as practiced by the Osage people. I was intrigued. Why not? A book has been released. Concerns and questions have been raised. Let’s see if we can’t answer some of those questions. First, I spoke with Brad:


Betsy Bird: This is your first book for children, as I understand it, and you are yourself a resident of Oklahoma. I wonder if you could talk a little about the decision to write a fantasy novel that includes, in some way, Osage legends and myths. When pitching this to Macmillan, did you encounter any resistance to the idea?

Brad McLelland: Thank you for having me! The road to getting Legends on the shelves has been quite a lengthy one—the planning of the series began all the way back in 2010, when Louis and I were graduate students at Oklahoma State University—but the journey’s been so exciting too. Especially because we’ve been able to form such a unique partnership with the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center and its affiliate, the Osage Language Department.

When Louis and I first decided to tell a fantasy story set in the Old West, we knew we would be tackling a challenge, but we decided right away that our story should be grounded in as much historical accuracy as possible, which meant including other cultures of our chosen setting. The Osage hold a prominent history in the region, so for us, writing a Western that begins in Missouri (and eventually makes its way into Kansas Territory) would have felt incomplete without including them. Of course, throughout the series we make reference to the other important Nations of the region, but the Osage became much more central to the overall plot.

-2But let me back up for a moment and make sure I clarify that Legends does not actually include Osage legends and myths. Those are not our stories to tell. Rather, the series introduces a small number of Osage characters who bring portions of their culture into the foreground of our narrative. The reader will see these character relationships deepen and grow, hopefully in exciting and innovative ways, as the series continues.

Once that decision was made, Louis and I began our research. Louis started his part of the work up in Idaho, where he moved in 2011 to become a professor at Lewis-Clark State College. I started mine at our “home base” in Oklahoma. While exploring various books and resources on Osage culture, I became aware of the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center, which is headquartered in Pawhuska—about a 45-minute drive from my home. By this point, Louis and I had finished a working draft of Book 1, and we were closely communicating with our agent, Brooks Sherman, who made sure to stress the importance of gaining the proper sensitivity readers for the book. I grew excited about the possibility of working directly with Osage specialists, so in late 2015 I called up Vann Bighorse, the director of the Cultural Center at the time. Vann was immediately gracious and agreed to look over the novel and its cultural content. So began my partnership with the Cultural Center. It continues to this day.

As for any resistance from the publisher, early on we communicated with Macmillan about our wonderful partnership with the Cultural Center, and the extensive research and sharing of information that followed, as we were seeking a publisher that would share our deep commitment to authentic representation. The additional honor of receiving a blurb from the Cultural Center solidified Macmillan’s decision, I believe. I can say with clear certainty, and with great gratitude, that Louis and I would not be on the bookshelves today if the Cultural Center had not shown such enthusiasm for working with us.


BB: Where did the idea for the book come in the first place? How did your collaboration with Louis work?

BM: The concept for Legends began as a short story idea in my head several years ago. As a kid, I had always enjoyed reading the Western novels that I would find in my grandmother’s old bedroom boxes. Then I discovered Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, which brilliantly blended  two genres, Fantasy and Western. I wanted to do something similar. Then along came the idea of an outlaw pursuing an ancient artifact in the Old West, and I realized I might have an interesting concept. I filed it away, thinking someday I might return to it.

Fast forward several years to the Oklahoma State University creative writing program in Stillwater, where I first met Louis in a fiction workshop. We shared a few story ideas one day at a friend’s birthday party, and I told him the outlaw premise from my old college years. He grew excited right away, and we found we couldn’t stop talking about the concept. Not long after, we started working together as partners, building plot points and sketching characters.

Our collaborative process basically consists of constant, back-and-forth drafting and revision. For example, Louis will write a chapter then pass the book to me, at which point I’ll revise his chapter to include my own adjustments for voice and style. Then I’ll write the next chapter and send the book back to him, etc. We like to call this process our “perpetual motion machine” of drafting and redrafting, and it ends up yielding a book we can both feel proud of, a book in which every sentence reads perfectly to us.


BB: Was there a sensitivity reader that worked with you on the book before Jessilyn looked at it, or was the book passed directly to her?

34567449BM: Vann Bighorse from the Cultural Center became our first official resource for the novel. He reviewed the book, and over a series of emails, provided excellent feedback. Then on the first day that I met him at his office in Pawhuska, he invited other members of his staff to join in the conversation, and together we looked over the material and discussed the Osage culture of 1855. We eventually moved the conversation into their library, where they shared numerous research books and ideas (many of which helped Louis and me in the drafting of Book 2). We talked extensively about the character of Keech Blackwood, and the use of fantasy elements in the narrative, and the various ways that the Osage would enter our magical world throughout the series. They were extraordinarily helpful and welcoming, and continued to offer feedback on the manuscript after that initial meeting.

When Jessilyn took over as Cultural Center director in 2016, she proved just as friendly and accessible. She read the next draft of the novel, offered her own notes and insights, and eventually brought another cultural specialist, Jennifer Tiger, into the process. Not long after, Jessilyn officially offered the blurb that’s been included on the book: “This is a fun and exciting story, written with the utmost respect for the Osage culture.” These two women have continued to work closely with us on the cultural content for Book 2, and Jessilyn has even provided feedback on the second novel’s cover sketch. Today, I maintain frequent communications with them, and also have the pleasure of working with their partner, the Language Department. The specialists and teachers there have both reviewed and directly provided all of the Osage language for the series thus far. It’s really quite exciting, particularly knowing that the characters you grow to love in your story receive so much care and attention from the proper experts. In fact, we’ve been able to enlist another sensitivity reader for a new character who arrives in Book 2 alongside the Osage (sorry, no spoilers!).


BB: You include parts of both the Osage Nation and Abenaki as well. Did anyone Abenaki look at this book as well, do you know?

BM: At the same time I was approaching the Osage Cultural Center, we also searched for a reader who could review the three Abenaki words used in the book. We first discovered these words while Louis and I were researching symbology and came across the incredible works of celebrated Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac. We created a backstory in which the Reverend Rose had once encountered the Abenaki tribe, putting on the ruse of a sincere man of God, before betraying them and ultimately stealing these three words to use for his own purposes. For this reason, throughout Book 1, and then definitively in Book 2, the main character Keech denounces Rose’s theft of these words and eventually refuses to use them.

Compared to the Osage material, this content is quite minimal in the story, but we still hoped to find someone who could give us a critique. I found a contact in Vermont who agreed to help us, but the book’s deadline took us into print before we could receive any official vetting. In the end, we hope these words inspire readers to grow more curious and learn more about the amazing Abenaki culture, and read the rich works of authors such as Bruchac. His collections in particular—books such as The Faithful Hunter and When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror—can give readers young and old a wonderfully fun insight into the abundant legends and mythologies of the Abenaki.


BB: What are you working on next?

BM: Well, Book 2 recently went through copyedits—and more detailed rounds with our Osage partners—so now Louis and I are knee-deep into the drafting of Book 3. Once the series is done after Book 4, I’m contemplating a solo middle-grade novel set in the Ozark Mountains, where I went to college. As a dedicated fan of folklore, I love the richness of that region and can’t wait to tackle a story that’s been on my heart for a long time. But first, Louis and I have to see Keech and the gang through their long, difficult journey to stop the Reverend Rose.


BB: Thanks, Brad. Jessilyn, thank you so much for answering my questions today. Can you talk a little bit about how you heard about the project and how you came to be the one to read the manuscript?

Jessilyn Hudgins: I first heard about the project from Brad. I came on as the Director of the Cultural Center in December 2016 and he (Brad) had been working with the previous director to ensure cultural sensitivity. I thought it was a worthwhile project and was appreciative that Brad had reached out and wanted to make sure he wasn’t stepping on any toes, culturally speaking.


-1BB: I wonder if you could tell me a little about encountering the book, whether or not you read all of it or if you just read the parts that spoke about the Osage culture.

JH: I read most of the book and all the parts pertaining to Osage culture. I became very intrigued when I first spoke with Brad and he gave me a brief synopsis.


BB: What was your experience reading the book? What kinds of notes did you initially have for the authors?

JH: Reading the book was like going on an adventure, it is very interesting. The first notes I encountered from the authors were all culturally related, specific things like areas where the Osages once lived, clothing worn, and cultural practices. Brad was very open minded and willing to change or take out anything that I was not comfortable with, which there were not many things. The authors were great in regards to cultural sensitivity.


BB: What were your thoughts on the Osage naming conventions listed in the book? Did the words and creatures (the wasape, the buffalo hair breechcloth, etc.) ring true for you?

JH: We had many discussions about Osage namings in the book, all ring true. We worked together with the Osage Nation Language Department to ensure everything was accurate.


Many thanks to both Brad and Jessilyn for speaking with me and for the folks at Macmillan for setting it up.


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Thank you!–Betsy and Brad, Jessilyn and Macmillan–for replacing innuendo with information.

  2. Jean Mendoza says:

    Asking questions about how Native content in a book was obtained & vetted — as was the case with Debbie Reese’s comments about this book — is hardly the same as “innuendo.” Raising questions about Native content is reasonable, rational, wise, and necessary. It’s useful to have some of those questions addressed in the interviews above. It would have also been helpful to readers and educators if the publisher had seen fit to share details of its vetting process with readers. That’s something I believe we need more of in books with historical content, even if they’re meant to be alternative history. Not all of the concerns Debbie raised have been addressed, as far as I can see. The information now available, though useful, is not the final word in the conversation.

    • Jean Mendoza says:

      I inadvertently left out part of a sentence in my comment. I meant to say “It would have also been helpful to readers and educators if the publisher had seen fit to share details of its vetting process with readers in some kind of note at the end or beginning of the book.”

  3. Sarah H says:

    I agree, Jean. Especially in the context of a long history of abuses and misrepresentations in that vetting process. (For just one recent example that Debbie Reese has also written about, see: )

    I’m also uncomfortable with the structure and framing of this post, which seems to position Debbie Reese and Jessilyn Hudgins as being in conflict with one another. I wonder if either of them were aware their words were going to be used in that framing, or if they consented to it? Given the context of a majority white publisher reaching out to a white woman to do interviews about a book by a white author, that framing is concerning.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I can see the concern. And though I’m obviously biased since I’m the one who constructed the post, I don’t see Debbie and Jessilyn as in conflict. Rather, Debbie had concerns because she didn’t have answers, I asked about those concerns, Jessilyn gave me some answers. I would, however, much prefer to see Debbie and Jessilyn in direct conversation as that would be the most informative post.

  4. I fundamentally agree that it is up to the members of a specific group to inform and correct others when statements about that group are incorrect. I might qualify that somewhat, because in some cases subjective decisions about what is “wrong,” might enter the picture, but in general, it’s a reasonable approach.
    It is certainly clear that Native Americans have every reason, after a long history of misinformation and disinformation about their heritage, to expect accurate and respectful portrayals in books.
    Having said that, are all groups entitled to the same treatment? I recently came across a book by Nikki Grimes, a highly respected author whose work I admire, which was composed of terrible anti-Semitic tropes, specifically that the Jewish people are responsible for the death of Jesus. At Jerusalem’s Gate is not a new book, but Ms. Grimes still includes it on her website. I was shocked when I read it. Are other readers also concerned about ensuring responsible portrayals of all marginalized groups?

  5. Sarah H says:

    Hi, Emily. (Sorry, I’m not sure how to nest this comment.) As a fellow Jewish person, I am also concerned about representations of Jewish people and of Judaism in books for children. One answer to your question is yes: I know of Jewish sensitivity readers who vet manuscripts from that perspective. Another answer is that there’s still a lot more to be done in terms of addressing dominant narratives about Jewish people and experiences in kidlit (including more representations of Jewishness that are not only white and/or Ashkenazi.)

    With that said, there’s a subtext to your comment with which I take issue. The subject under discussion here is the dynamics surrounding representations of Native people in children’s books, particularly in books by white authors about Native people, communities, and nations. Responding in that discussion to critique antisemitism in a book by a Black woman author, and asking if Jewish people are “entitled” to the same considerations (as whom, exactly?) inappropriately turns the conversation into a competition — and, worse, suggests that there is attentiveness to the representation of Native and Black communities in kidlit that does not exist for Jewish communities. (Never mind that Black and Native Jewish people exist too.) Please check that line of thinking at the door. There’s a place to discuss the issues you raise about that title in particular, and about representations of Judaism in kidlit more broadly — in fact there are Jewish people out there doing just that. But that place is not here.

  6. Sarah,
    I am sorry that you have read into my comment a competition which is not there. It is entirely relevant when discussing an issue in relation to one group to associate it to a similar issue affecting another group. In fact, since Ms. Grimes is a recipient of the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, the very title of which is under legitimate discussion because of Wilder’s use of language which denigrates Native Americans, it is certainly legitimate to bring up the anti-Semitism in Grimes’s book. As for your offense at the notion that images of Jews in children’s literature should be more closely examined, I am not the first person to suggest that they should be, nor that diversity is a term which is not always inclusive of Jews. ( Not only will I not “check my line of thinking at the door,” but I feel it is inappropriate for you to determine that a civil discussion on School Library Journal is not the place to raise Jewish issues, or any other issues of concern to those of us involved in children’s literature.
    Please read the link to my blog post about Grimes’s book before judging the urgency of this issue.

  7. Sarah H says:

    Hi again, Emily. As I said above, I absolutely do think discussions of Jewish rep are necessary and vital. I’ve written about those issues, too. My concern is in using those issues to derail a conversation about Native representation. And in that spirit, I’m now stepping aside here, in hopes that the focus can return to that topic.

    • Thanks, Sarah H, for articulating (better than I could) my concerns about the way this conversation is getting derailed. I, like you and Emily, am a (white) Jewish woman concerned with Jewish rep in kid lit, but that does not have a place in this discussion.

    • Seconding this as well. I don’t have anything to add, but support what Sarah H. and Kazia have said.

    • Sam Bloom says:

      Hi, white Jewish guy seconding (along with Kazia and Allie) what Sarah H. has said here. There is a time and place to discuss Jewish representation in children’s books, and this is not it.

  8. Gosh it is Thursday already. I meant to comment earlier but haven’t had time to read the interviews carefully so that I can ask some questions and/or make observations. Emily–Sarah is right that there are lots of conversations about many peoples and groups and how they are misrepresented. This particular post happens to be about Indigenous people.

    Regarding the interview above, one thought is that I am glad that Macmillan read my critique (I assume they did, hence their reaching out to Betsy) and decided to find a way to address it (getting in touch with Betsy) so that a lot of people would see it.

    So here’s one thought for now: sensitivity reader(s) of this book provided a lot of input. In the interest of helping all writers not make the same kinds of errors that the authors of LOST CAUSES made in their early drafts, it would be good to know some specific examples of what they were asked not to include.

    Another thought is this: are you, Macmillan, doing something in-house, like a document or guide, to give to all your editors and writers? If so, I understand that you are a business and might want to make it private but it would help the entire industry if it was a public item.

    Of course, this isn’t on Macmillan alone. The authors of LOST CAUSES could give us that information. What were they asked to take out? Do they understand why they were asked to take it out? Their fellow writers would benefit from hearing about all of that directly from them.

    I will (as soon as I can) insert material above into my critique. It will be helpful to the writers, readers, and reviewers who read my site.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I can’t speak to whether or not Macmillan read your critique or not since they never brought it up with me. I’d read the critique, though, and figured it would make for an interesting post.

      One thought that’s been turning about in my brain recently is the old Mammothgate controversy. Do you remember it? Way back in 2009 when The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede came out the author made the choice to eliminate all American Indians from her historical fantasy of the Old West. Folks were, to say the least, not pleased. This makes for an interesting question about what happens when white authors write about the American West in their fiction. The elimination of all Native content is unacceptable. But mentioning them in a poorly researched way is also unacceptable. LOST CAUSES is almost a test case for what steps an author could take. Whether or not you feel it was done well in the end, I think it’s interesting to look at what the author did prior to publication. I would love to see an article in PW or SLJ where different authors at different publishing houses answered some of the questions you’ve posed here.

      • I was part of the conversation over Wrede’s book. Erasure isn’t good; neither is misrepresentation or poor research.

        You obviously have a connection at Macmillan. Can you ask them why they offered you this opportunity? And can you ask them and/or the author if they’ll step up now, to let us all know what went on pre-publication?

      • Elizabeth Bird says:

        Debbie, I’m assuming you’ve already asked them yourself, right? Before you wrote the critique of the book you wouldn’t have asked those questions without reaching out to the original sensitivity reader, so how much information has already been denied you at this point in time? Once I know that then I’ll have all the information and I can talk to Macmillan’s contact.

      • I didn’t reach out to anybody.

        I have nothing other than what you have written in the post.

      • Elizabeth Bird says:

        Got it. Okay, I’ll reach out to Macmillan and see what can be done.

      • It looks like Debbie responded, publicly, to what information was available, publicly, from the author and publisher. Then, Betsy was pitched on hosting, publicly, a bunch of information that was not available, publicly, until then. Is this accurate?

      • Lynn V says:

        Debbie – You had questions about the book. The publisher includes a reference to the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center. Why didn’t you contact the Cultural Center and ask them your questions before publishing your review? Why didn’t you talk to an Abenaki language expert about your concerns? Why didn’t you do more than “initial research” before you published your review? You presume the authors “made [stuff] up”, accuse them of being arrogant, and then offer to revise your post if someone else wants to do some research and get back to you. As a school librarian, reviews such as this are not helpful. But maybe school librarians are not your intended audience.

  9. Debbie,
    I have already addressed the false argument that now is not the time or place to bring up an issue of oppression, negative stereotyping, or prejudice. That is an effective way to dismiss a legitimate cause, and it has frequently been used against Native Americans, African Americans, and other groups seeking justice. In no way does my linking the two related issues diminish the importance of the issue raised in Ms. Bird’s post. It is not a contest. I am eager to learn more about this and other problems with representation of Native Americans in literature. Please do not denigrate the threat of anti-Semitism, including the example in my blog entry about At Jerusalem’s Gate.

  10. This comment is intended for Betsy (not anyone else in the comments)–At the risk of stepping waaaay out of my lane, I want to name some of the dynamics I see happening in this post. White man publishes a book with Native content; Native woman criticizes said book; book’s publisher asks White woman to host a response to said criticism; White woman obligingly provides a platform. White man speaks first, and for 1600 words, about his writing and research process; Native woman speaks for 300 words about her experience as sensitivity reader, asserting the book’s authenticity and integrity. White woman hosting the post then denies that the post frames the two Native women as being in conflict with each other.

    Betsy, you say you’d “prefer to see Debbie and Jessilyn in direct conversation.” Did you think about making that offer to Debbie–to host her in this post as well, turn it into a conversation piece? Did you first direct Macmillan to AICL and suggest that approach?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Allie, I didn’t. I probably should have. Nor did I direct Macmillan. I wasn’t sure, and I should have asked Debbie, how much contact she’d already had with the publisher and the Wahzhazhe Cultural Center outside of her post. I assumed she wrote the post after contacting them, but that was making assumptions on my part. I would still like to see this conversation very much.

  11. Anonymous librarian says:

    Emily Schneider, you could not be more correct or appropriate. Thank you for raising this related issue. Dr. Reese has raised equivalent issues in a similar matter, and I am always grateful when she does. See the comments to Reading Roger’s “Everybody’s Talking” post from last August. It was fine for her to do it then, and it just fine for you to do it now. I hope there is follow up from the author, her publisher, and the Wilder committee.

  12. Thomas C-H says:

    Or you can look at it this way. 1) White writer has the temerity to write a book that features Osage characters, and in doing so, he does what book critics claim they want writers to do: he consults experts and scholars at the Osage Cultural Center. They generously share their research materials and opinions with him. 2) A blogger whose blog is dedicated to finding and exposing badly researched books about Native Americans does some online searches, and concludes that this writer has not done his homework. She accuses him of arrogance, appropriation, misrepresentation, and desecration. 3) The publisher, who is aware that at least some if these accusations are unjust, looks for a proper venue to inform the public that many of the details that the blogger objected to are in fact founded on research and collaboration with Osage scholars. 4) The publisher selects Betsy Bird, who is known for being liberal in both senses of the words—both left-wing, and generous-natured– and asks her to host the interviews online. 5) Some of the readers of the blog conclude that this is a racist conspiracy between a white writer, a white publisher, and Fusenumber8. 6) The opinion of the Osage historians are dismissed, and the writer is treated with the same hostility that he would have been entitled to if he had done no research at all.

  13. There are two different threads in this conversation, both stemming from Ms. Bird’s presentation of an important topic regarding Native American literature. I do want to respond to “Anonymous Librarian’s” supportive comment with an honest question: why would an articulate member of the children’s literature community feel the need to be anonymous when challenging the application of “diversity?” or Dr. Reese’s opinion? Since “Anonymous Librarian” brought up the “Everybody’s Talking” post by Roger Sutton, I am providing a link, because it does offer an important example:
    She is correct that Dr. Reese brought into that discussion a subject that was in some way, but not directly, related to Mr. Sutton’s topic. No one attacked her for doing so, nor should they have.
    I have indeed contacted the publisher and author of At Jerusalem’s Gate, but have received no response. Thank you to Julie Corsaro for the link to the Wilder Award Committee, but this only gives general information. Of course, I understand that no one can reveal the way she voted and I would not expect a personal explanation from a member of the Committee. However, the general rules simply do not explain how a book employing base anti-Semitic stereotypes and falsehoods escaped everyone’s notice.

    • Anonymous Librarian says:

      Emily, I don’t post under my own name for several reasons. Most important is that I have children. I do not want them to read, especially on Twitter, what the kids of others who challenge certain ideas about children’s literature and/or diversity in the public space of the Internet must read about them. See under: Kat Rosenfield. She has a lot of guts. So do you.

      Keep us posted on what happens with At Jerusalem’s Gate. There is a history now of journals and groups reconsidering and revising bestowed reviews, award names, awards, etc. for literary and personal reasons. Maybe that will happen here.

      As for the main subject of Betsy’s post, I think it is a poor idea for authors to have to make their early drafts public so that they can point out what they changed or what they didn’t know earlier in a writing process, or for them to have to discuss their full research process in an Author’s Note or Afterword. I believe authors are entitled to have a curtain drawn over their writing process if they want one. It is up to them to pull it back or not. If what they are writing has to do with facts, the presumption should be that the author did her or his homework. If the homework was not done, or if harmful stereotypes are employed, with any luck it will come to light in the future. This may happen right away, or it could take some time, but ultimately the work speaks for itself.

  14. Sarah H says:

    Just going to link to this again, for anyone who may have missed it.

    Or, if we are speaking about protecting children, perhaps we could talk about the white woman who recently called the police to report two Native boys during a college tour, because she thought the boys “didn’t belong.”

    Sometimes I think there should be an award for the white person who most creatively frames *us* as the victims in discussions of racism. But the fact is, it isn’t creative at all; it’s an old, destructive, and dangerous story. And lord knows, we’ve given ourselves enough awards as it is.