Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

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Overview

“I had a profoundly well-educated Princetonian ask me, ‘Where is your tomahawk?’ I had a beautiful woman approach me in the college gymnasium and exclaim, ‘You have the most beautiful red skin.’ I took a friend to see Dances with Wolves and was told, ‘Your people have a beautiful culture.’ . . . I made many lifelong friends at college, and they supported but also challenged me with questions like, ‘Why should Indians have reservations?’ ”

What have you always wanted to know about Indians? Do you think you should ...

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Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

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Overview

“I had a profoundly well-educated Princetonian ask me, ‘Where is your tomahawk?’ I had a beautiful woman approach me in the college gymnasium and exclaim, ‘You have the most beautiful red skin.’ I took a friend to see Dances with Wolves and was told, ‘Your people have a beautiful culture.’ . . . I made many lifelong friends at college, and they supported but also challenged me with questions like, ‘Why should Indians have reservations?’ ”

What have you always wanted to know about Indians? Do you think you should already know the answers—or suspect that your questions may be offensive? In matterof-fact responses to over 120 questions, both thoughtful and outrageous, modern and historical, Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist Anton Treuer gives a frank, funny, and sometimes personal tour of what’s up with Indians, anyway.

• What is the real story of Thanksgiving?
• Why are tribal languages important?
• What do you think of that incident where people died in a sweat lodge?

White/Indian relations are often characterized by guilt and anger. Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask cuts through the emotion and builds a foundation for true understanding and positive action.

Anton Treuer, author of The Assassination of Hole in the Day and many other books on Ojibwe history and language, received an Ambassador Award in 2011 from Facing Race: We’re All in This Together, an initiative of the St. Paul Foundation. All around Minnesota, Treuer has given scores of public lectures and been asked hundreds of questions—many like the ones in this book.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Positioning himself as an ambassador of the Ojibwe people, Treuer (Ojibwe, Bemidji State Univ., MN; The Assassination of Hole in the Day) endeavors to address misconceptions held by non-natives about the American Indian experience in the United States. He accomplishes his task by posing and answering approximately 125 questions divided into ten categories: "Terminology," "History," "Religion, Culture & Identity," "Powwow," "Tribal Languages," "Politics," "Economics," "Education," "Perspectives: Coming to Terms and Future Directions," and "Finding Ways to Make a Difference." Some of the questions, such as "Do Indians live in teepees?" and "What is the real story of Columbus?" are generic for this type of work, but other questions delve into politically sensitive areas such as the relationship between blood quantum and tribal enrollment. The author also thoughtfully provides examples of how cultural misunderstandings often have unintended consequences. For instance, he discusses how tribal license plates intended to show native pride became a tool for racial profiling by law enforcement. VERDICT This book, both entertaining and informative, is recommended for general readers.—John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This collection of approximately 120 questions and answers, mainly gathered during the author's many public lectures on Native culture, can be used on many levels. Divided into chapters such as "Terminology"; "History"; "Religion, Culture, Identity"; "Powwow"; "Tribal Languages"; "Politics"; "Economics"; "Education"; and "Perspectives," questions range from general (What is a powwow? What were federal residential boarding schools?) to specific (How do tribal languages encapsulate a different world view?). Treuer, a Princeton scholar and member of the Ojibwe tribe, often uses personal examples in clear concise language, stating upfront that the views he expresses are his own. Black-and-white photographs and illustrations, both historical and modern, accompany the text where appropriate. Overall, this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking overview that serves to alleviate misconceptions and bridge knowledge gaps among cultures. A useful tool for students, an excellent resource for teachers, or simply an informative read for those interested in the topic, this book is for general purchase.—Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873518611
  • Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 303,538
  • Lexile: 1250L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ambassador 1

Terminology 7

What terms are most appropriate for talking about North America's first people?

What terms are not appropriate for talking about North America's first people?

What terms are most appropriate for talking about each tribe?

How do I know how to spell all these complicated terms?

What term is most appropriate-nation, band, tribe, or reservation?

What does the word powwow mean?

How can I find out the meaning of the place names around me that come from indigenous languages?

History 15

How many Indians were in North and South America before contact?

When did Indians really get to North America?

Why does it matter when Indians got here?

What do Indians say about their origins?

Who else made it here before Columbus?

Did Native Americans scalp?

Did Indians practice polygamy? Do they now?

What are native views about homosexuality?

How was gender configured in native communities?

Do indigenous people in Canada get treated more fairly by their government than those in the United States?

What is the real story of Columbus?

Why does getting the Columbus story right matter?

What is the real story of Thanksgiving?

What is the real story of Pocahontas?

When did the U.S. government stop making treaties with Indians and why?

Why do some people use the word genocide in discussing the treatment of Indians?

Religion, Culture & Identity 39

Why do Indians have long hair?

Do Indians live in teepees?

What is fasting and why do Indians do it?

What are clans and do all Indians have them?

Where are the real Indians?

What does traditional mean?

Aren't all Indians traditional?

Why is it called a "traditional Indian fry bread taco"?

What is Indian time?

What are Indian cars?

I thought that Indians have a strong sense of ecological stewardship, so why do I also see a lot of trash in some yards?

Do Indians have a stronger sense of community than non-Indians?

What is Indian religion?

Why do Indians use tobacco for ceremonies?

It seems like Indians have a deeper spiritual connection than in many religious traditions. Is that true?

What are some of the customs around pregnancy and childbirth?

What are naming ceremonies?

Can a normative person get an Indian name?

What are coming-of-age ceremonies?

How come everyone's laughing at a traditional Indian funeral?

Do they charge for participation in native ceremonies?

What is a sweat lodge?

Do Indians still get persecuted for their religious beliefs?

Powwow 68

What is a powwow?

What do the different styles of dance mean?

Why are "49" songs sung in English?

How come they have a prize purse at powwows?

Can white people dance at powwows?

Do women sing at powwows?

What is the protocol for gifts at powwows?

Tribal Languages 79

How many tribal languages are spoken in North America?

Which ones have a chance to be here a hundred years from now?

Why are fluency rates higher in Canada?

It seems like tribal languages won't give native people a leg up in the modern world. Why are tribal languages important to Indians?

Why should tribal languages be important to everyone else?

What are the challenges to successfully revitalizing tribal languages?

When were tribal languages first written down?

Many tribal languages were never written. Why do they write them now?

Why is it funnier in Indian?

How do tribal languages encapsulate a different world view?

Politics 86

What is sovereignty?

Why do Indians have reservations?

Why isn't being American enough? Why do Indians need reservations today?

Why do Indians have treaty rights? What other rights do they have that differ from most people?

What is allotment?

Why does my land have clouded title?

Is something being done about clouded title?

If tribes had hereditary chiefs, how come there is a democratic process in place for selecting tribal leaders in most places today?

What's the Indian Reorganization Act?

What are the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council?

Why do so many Indians live in urban areas today? What is relocation?

What is termination?

Why do Indians have their own police and courts in some places?

Why does the FBI investigate murders on some reservations?

Why do state law enforcement agencies investigate murders on some other reservations? What is Public Law 280?

Don't tribes ever investigate murders on Indian land themselves?

Do Indians face racial profiling from law enforcement?

Should Leonard Peltier be freed?

Is AIM good or bad?

What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?

What is blood quantum, what is tribal enrollment, and how are they related?

How has tribal enrollment affected you personally?

How come some tribes ban the use and sale of alcohol?

Is there a solution to substance abuse in Indian country?

Do all Indians have drinking problems?

Why is there so much concern about mascots?

Why don't tribes do more to support language and culture?

Why are Indian politics often such a viper's pit?

Are tribes getting better?

Why do Indians have so many kids?

I heard that a lot of Indians serve in the U.S. military. How do they reconcile their service with the fact that the U.S. Army killed so many of their people?

How do Indians feel about the use of Geronimo as the code name for Osama Bin Laden?

Economics 128

Do Indians get a break on taxes, and if so, why?

Do Indians get a break on license plates?

Why should Indians be eligible for welfare if they are not taxed the same way as everyone else?

Are all Indians living in extreme poverty?

Are all Indians rich from casinos?

How has casino gambling affected Indian communities?

How have per capita payments affected Indian communities?

What is the future of Indian gaming?

What should tribes be doing to improve the economic condition of their citizens?

Education 138

What were federal residential boarding schools?

How come 50 percent of-Indians are flunking their state-mandated tests in English and math?

Is there anything that works in the effort to bridge the achievement gap?

How does No Child Left Behind affect Indian country?

Do all Indians have a free ride to college?

Perspectives: Coming to Terms and Future Directions 146

Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?

As a white person, I don't feel privileged. So what do Indians mean by that term?

Why don't tribes solve their own problems?

All these problems are not my fault. Why should I be asked to atone for the sins of my ancestors?

Is there anything wrong with saying that some of my best friends are Indians?

Is there something wrong with saying that my great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess?

I might have some Indian ancestry. How do I find out?

Why is that picture End of the Trail so popular in Indian country?

Regarding casinos and treaty rights, I'm not racist, but it doesn't seem fair to me. What's wrong with that line of thinking?

I'm not racist, but it all happened in the past. Why can't Indians just move on?

Why do Indian people often seem angry?

Do Indians ever work together?

What are some good books to read about Indians?

Are there any good Indian movies?

Have you ever been the object of direct racial discrimination?

You're a testament to your race. How did you turn out so good?

How can I learn more?

Conclusion: Finding Ways to Make a Difference 159

How can I help?

Acknowledgments 165

Recommended Reading 167

Notes 171

Index 179

Illustration Credits 191

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    Very thought provoking and an eye opener.

    Where do I begin. Read the book. It is written from a Native American prospective. I am a non-native american. I have known of some of the injustices done to native americans but I had my eyes opened regarding "white history." I think every educator should read this book. Come on America wake up.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

    I am a non-native person who grew up in the area that this autho

    I am a non-native person who grew up in the area that this author grew up in. I have seen from the other side the unfortunate divide in this area that he speaks about, regarding non-native and native peoples. I read this book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. My only regret was that I was hoping for some more elaboration on some parents. My assumption as this was a bit intentional, to get people to educate themselves moe thoroughly. As someone who sees myself as fairly open-minded and aware, this was a true eye opener. I will definitely read his other books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2014

    Elias Treuer

    That is my fathers book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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