NCAC and partners sent a letter to the Billings School District defending Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The book has been taught in 10th grade classrooms for a number of years.
On a meeting of the school board on Monday, November 11, supporters greatly outnumbered critics of the book. A number of students spoke about the book’s impact on their own lives, and a woman who had grown up in Nazi Germany expressed her fears at the desire to censor books. A district reconsideration committee voted unanimously to keep the book; a campus committee also recommended the book be retained.
Chad Falls Down, a Crow/Gros Ventre student in the district, has been actively advocating for the book as well, circulating a petition and speaking to media. When asked about the book, Chad told reporters: "This [book] is totally realistic, this isn’t sugar coating the past or future, or how government has truly made Native Americans the way they wanted them to be."
This contrasts with the objections of complainants who said the book does nothing but confirm negative stereotypes about the lives of Native Americans.
The timing is coincidental, as Alexie will be honored by NCAC for his contribution to the fight against censorship at its annual benefit gathering on November 12, 2013. Absolutely True Diary is the Kids’ Right to Read Project‘s most frequently challenged book.