Little House on the Prairie (novel)
|Author||Laura Ingalls Wilder|
|Publisher||Harper & Brothers|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.W6461 Lit 1971|
|Preceded by||Farmer Boy|
|Followed by||On the Banks of Plum Creek|
The book is about the months the Ingalls family spent on the Kansas prairie around the town of Independence. Wilder describes how her father built their one-room log house in Indian Territory, having heard that the government planned to open the territory to white settlers soon.
Here, unlike in the original Little House in the Big Woods, the family meets difficulty and danger. They all fall ill from malaria, which was ascribed to breathing the night air or eating watermelon. American Indians are a common sight for the little family, as their house was built in Osage territory, and Ma's open prejudice about Indians contrasts with Laura's more childlike observations about the Indians who live and ride nearby. The Indians begin to congregate at the nearby river bottoms and their war cries unnerve the settlers, who worry they may be attacked, but an Osage chief who was friendly with Pa is ultimately able to avert the hostilities.
By the end of the book, all the family's work is undone when word comes that U.S. soldiers are being sent to remove white settlers from Indian Territory. Pa decides to move the family away immediately before they can be forced to leave.
The Ingalls family moved from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to Kansas in 1868 (stopping for a while in Rothville, Missouri), and lived there between 1869 and 1870. Baby Carrie was born there in August, and a few weeks after her birth, they were forced to leave the territory (however, in the novel, Carrie is present during the move to Kansas). The Ingalls family moved back to Wisconsin where they lived the next four years. In 1874 they started for Walnut Grove, Minnesota, stopping for a while in Lake City, Minnesota.
Although Wilder states that Charles Ingalls had been told that the Kansas territory would soon be up for settlement, their homestead was on the Osage Indian reservation and Charles' information was incorrect. The Ingalls family had no legal right to occupy their homestead, and once informed of their error, left the territory despite the fact that they had only just begun farming it. Several of their neighbors stayed and fought the decision.
As they were preparing to leave, the Ingalls received word from Wisconsin that the man who purchased their farm near Pepin had defaulted on the mortgage. Since they had to leave Kansas, they decided to go back to Wisconsin and moved back to the farm they had left two years earlier. So instead of heading to Minnesota as the series relates, they headed to Wisconsin and lived there again for a few years before heading west to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
- Little House on the Prairie Google Books
- History of Malaria[dead link]
- Kaye, Frances W. (2000). "Little Squatter on the Osage Diminished Reserve: Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Kansas Indians". Great Plains Quarterly 20 (2): 123–140.