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because I distinctly remember getting thrown into detention for weeks as a fifth grader for punching a girl who wouldn’t believe me when I said this book was bullshit and insisted on calling me Little Tree
because educators shouldn’t be using this book for something even as ‘inane’ as reading comprehension work
because shit like this is part of why Natives are fucking fed up with appropriation and racism:
If you want to know how easy it is to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes then meet Asa Earl Carter who thirty years before his “Indian” writing days was a Ku Klux Klan organizer, a fierce segregationist, racist propagandist and a talk show host who preached the dangers of integration.
“In 1963, he drafted an inaugural address for Alabama Gov. George Wallace that would become one of the most notorious speeches of the civil rights era”…Carter was the guy who wrote these famous words for Governor Wallace:“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”Carter was the same man who years later penned a best selling and highly acclaimed “autobiography of a Native American orphan struggling against racism,” called “The Education of Little Tree.”
The book, now recognized as fiction, recounts the childhood remembrances of an orphaned Native American boy living with his Cherokee grandparents in a mountain log cabin in eastern Tennessee during the 1930s. Since its first publication in 1976 the book has sold more than 1 million copies.
Originally accepted by the literary and broader media community as an actual work by a Cherokee Indian, The Education of Little Tree now ranks as one of the great literary hoaxes of American literature.
An article by John C. Hopwood in 2008 puts into perspective who Asa Earl Carter really was down deep in the fiber of his being.“Asa Earl Carter (after being fired in 1953 from radio station WILD in Birmingham for expressing anti-Semitic views on-air) subsequently formed his own “klavern” of the Ku Klux Klan, again an offshoot or splinter group of recognized organizations, that he called the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy. With Jessie Mabry, he began publishingThe Southerner, a racist newspaper.When his career in Alabama’s politics and segregation movement ended Carter reinvented himself as a writer of Western novels.
Members of Carter’s klavern stoned an African American woman who attempted to register as a student at the University of Alabama, assaulted (the then popular singer) Nat King Cole during a Birmingham performance in 1956, and beat civil rights leader Fred Shuttleworth and his wife (who was stabbed).
The wave of violence initiated by Carter’s klavern culminated in the castration of an African American handyman, who nearly bled to death. Mabry and three other members of the Carter klavern were convicted of the crime, and were sentenced to twenty years in jail. (A parole board appointed by Governor George Wallace commuted the sentences of Mabry and the three others in 1963.)
Carter was not implicated in the brutal castration/attempted murder of the African American handyman (an incident that is featured in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth), but his propensity for violence was extremely pronounced. He shot two fellow Klansmen in a dispute over the klavern’s finances, but was not charged. He would later die from complications caused by a fist-fight with his own son.”
Hopwood writes he took the pen name “Forrest Carter,” and took as his new “Christian name” the surname of Nathan Bedford Forrest — the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
By 1975 Carter found himself on NBC’s The Today Show being interviewed by Barbara Walters who bought everything Carter was selling (he told her he had “wrangled horses” and when he lived in Oklahoma he was “the storyteller to the Cherokee Nation.”)
His first Western novel, The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales, was made into the hit 1976 movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.
Carter was paid $35,000 for the book’s movie rights. After the Eastwood film was released, The New York Times revealed that Forrest Carter was Asa Earl Carter, the segregationist.
In addition to his sequel to Josey Wales, Carter wrote a second Western novel about Geronimo and after that his block-buster The Education of Little Tree: A True Story, which he claimed was a memoir of “Forrest Carter,” Cherokee sage.
Although slow starting in sales the book eventually went on to became Delacorte’s best-selling book ever — over a million copies sold.
The University of New Mexico acquired the title in 1985. For its initial edition it printed a dust-jacket biography claiming, untruthfully, that “Forrest Carter, whose Indian name is Little Tree, was known as ‘Storyteller in Council’ to the Cherokee Nations.”
And no one checked with the Cherokee Nations to see if that was true.
Carter died in 1979 after finishing a draft screenplay for his Josey Wales sequel. His Geronimo book was published posthumously. In fact, in the 1990’s four of his books were published.
In 1991, Education of Little Tree now published by the University of New Mexico Press with the A True Story subtitle dropped, became a #1 best-seller on The New York Times paperback non-fiction best-seller list.
…the Cherokee words that Forrest Carter used in his “memoir” weren’t Cherokee. They weren’t anything. They were made up out of thin air.
heard this on NPR last week… Crazy