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ERIC Number: ED408117
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1995-Dec
Pages: 23
Abstractor: N/A
"Now, This Is a True Story."
Darwin, Clayton M.
This paper presents a cultural/historical interpretation of "The Education of Little Tree," a children's book by the late Forrest Carter. The 1976 book, which sold over 700,000 copies and was widely used in classrooms to present Native American values and lifestyles, is the story of an orphaned boy named Little Tree, raised by his Cherokee grandparents in the Tennessee mountains during the Depression. Because the book's cover carried the subtitle "A True Story by Forrest Carter," critics charge that the author presented the book as an autobiography and true representation of Native American culture. In 1991, Forrest Carter was exposed as the late Asa Earl Carter, a Ku Klux Klan terrorist and right-wing radio announcer. The revelations caused an upheaval among readers and proponents of Carter's work. This paper suggests that Carter's representation of the book as a "true story" simply reflects a cultural tradition of storytelling in the South and that the author did not intend to misrepresent his work. For example, it is apparent that the Native American themes in the book are not the "truth" and are simply added to make the story more interesting. Carter's story does not accurately reflect Cherokee beliefs about creation and the natural order, nor their hunting, farming, and social practices. Although Carter's themes are more representative of Appalachian culture than Cherokee culture, the "truth" in the story is that Carter is portraying his own beliefs and experiences. What Carter has done is give the reader his philosophy on the three relationships that every person will encounter in life: spiritual, human, and environmental. The controversy over this book results from a failure to understand the culture of the author. This book is indeed a "true story" in the Southern sense of the phrase, and Forrest/Asa Earl Carter is indeed a true storyteller. (LP)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A