The ALSC said the decision was made in consideration of "expressions of stereotypical attitudes" in Wilder's work that are "inconsistent with ALSC's core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness".
In the late 1990s, scholar Waziyatawin Angela Cavender Wilson approached the Yellow Medicine East School District after her daughter came home crying because of a line in the book, first attributed to Gen. Philip Sheridan but a common saying by that time: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian". "Only Indians lived there", The Washington Post reported. She tweeted that the vote to change the award's name was a "significant and historic moment" but still only a step. It said, "The award was created in 1954 when an understanding of the message it sends to people of color, specifically American Indians and those of African descent, was not recognized".
Wilder was the first author to receive the award in 1954, nearly 20 years after she wrote the famous 1935 novel, in which she described unoccupied land as a place where "there were no people".
In "Little House on the Prairie", Wilder wrote, "Their Faces were bold and fierce and awful". The ALSC, which is based in Chicago, says her work continues to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced". In 1952, she apologized amid criticism for the opening sentences of "Little House on the Prairie", which state, "there were no people".
In its letter to the ALSC, the LIWLRA noted that "no human is untarnished", and stressed that Wilder deserves continued recognition for supporting libraries and educational initiatives across America, and for representing "the ability of an individual to not only overcome a hard past and upbringing, but also to tell the story of those obstacles so that future generations may grow and learn". Previously, the organization had noted the "anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments" in Wilder's writing. At the forefront of the argument is her handling of black and Native American characters, both in namecalling and characterization. The racial content in her books "should be discussed in our modern perspective and addressed directly", the group said, "rather than hidden or avoided".