Wilbur’s goal for the project was to counteract the one-dimensional stereotypes and caricatures that have dominated the representation of Native people for centuries.
“We’ve told a story that doesn’t uplift the contemporary complexity of our Indigenous intelligence or our strength or our resiliency or our contributions to the society, but rather a pre-1900s narrative that’s deeply damaging to the psyche of our youth,” she said. “We need different images. We need positive images for our own youth to be able to see themselves differently.”
The impetus for the project came when Wilbur was a teacher at a tribal school and was asked to create a curriculum to teach students about their history.
“I went to my elders back to the principal of my school and I said, ‘You know, there really isn’t something that I can teach. There aren’t the materials,’” she said. “‘And I can’t use these images that I found on Google. And I certainly can’t use these terrible images created by Edward S. Curtis. So what should I do?’ And they said, ‘You should go make the book then.’ And so, I sort of was just doing what I was told.”