Two of Frank Baum’s descendants apologize for his racism

Not many people are aware of the racism of Frank Baum, author of the much beloved “The Wizard of Oz”. I felt it important and devoted a few pages to it in Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin.

As Marty says, it’s refreshing news that a couple of Baum’s descendants have come forward to apoloize for two editorials he wrote on Sitting Bull and Wounded Knee, for his Saturday Pioneer newspaper which called for the extermination of American Indians.

Read in full here.

Children of ‘Oz’ apologize for racism
By David Kranz
August 21, 2006

Many generations of people have walked L. Frank Baum’s Yellow Brick Road, but two of his ancestors took another path through the Native American reservations of South Dakota last week, apologizing for him.

The issue is about two editorials Baum wrote in his Saturday Pioneer newspaper that he published during the three years he lived in Aberdeen during the 1890s. His commentary on Sitting Bull and Wounded Knee, written in 1890 and 1891, called for the extermination of Native Americans.

Two descendants of the author of “The Wizard of Oz,” Mac Hudson, a great-great-grandson from Tucson, Ariz., and Gita (Dorothy) Morena, a great-granddaughter from San Diego, came to the state accompanied by Sally Roesch Wagner, who did research for the Wounded Knee Survivors Association. She works for the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. Baum was the son-in-law of Gage.

“We are here to apologize, to bear witness to the suffering to that kind of thinking and attitude and make reconciliation and begin healing. We felt called to do that, make a connection with the descendants’ survivors,” Morena said.

3 Replies to “Two of Frank Baum’s descendants apologize for his racism”

  1. This IS a little refreshing to read..thankyou! I sat here and read about Mr Baum’s thoughts and comments in disbelief!! They were callous to say the least. I have seen with my own eyes, the suffering of the Indian people and it is hard to believe that one human being could be so cruel to another. Thankfully there are SOME good people left in the world who can see beyond their own ego!!

    1. Yeah, once once has read Baum’s editorials it’s difficult to look upon Oz with the same eyes as previous. Was nice that two of his descendants addressed this.

  2. Just learnt about this . Wikipedia puts forward that this quote from his article

    “The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth”

    was not supposed to be taken literally and was in fact an attempt by L. Frank Baum to generate sympathy for the Indians with an obnoxious argument.

    I’d like to believe that but it seems more of an attempt by modern scholars to untarnish his image . I’m along the lines of Juli and not able to look at the story of Oz in the same light from now on. I am pleased his descendants attempted to make amends with this letter.

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