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“The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, 1935
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the sentence quoted above. Those exact words appear on page 284 of Wilder’s classic children’s book, Little House on the Prairie. Were those the words of little Laura herself, written in maturity as she remembered them from childhood? Or was such a slur spoken by Laura’s beloved Pa? If not Pa, did Ma utter that condemnable statement, out of fear of her neighbors on the prairie? Or worse, out of pure hatred?
For a book that was published nearly a century ago, it’s no spoiler alert to reveal that, in fact, it was the Ingalls’ neighbor Mr. Scott who made the remark. You may wonder why I just didn’t include any information about the speaker in the first place since the full quote is written, “‘The only good Indian is a dead Indian,’ Mr. Scott said.”