New book: Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, by Anton Treuer ’91 (Borealis Books)
Author: An Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist, Anton Treuer grew up on the Leech Lake Ojibwe Reservation in Minnesota. A professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, he is the editor of the only academic journal of the Ojibwe language, Oshkaabewis Native Journal, and has written books on Ojibwe history and language. Treuer, who calls himself an “ambassador for my people,” has given hundreds of public lectures; this book emerged from the question and answer sessions that followed his presentations.
The book: In a question-and-answer format, Treuer provides answers to more than 120 questions — including What is a powwow? What is Indian religion? and How come 50 percent of Indians are flunking their state-mandated tests in English and math? — that he hopes will help readers better understand Indian history and culture.
Opening lines: “INDIANS. They are so often imagined, but so infrequently well understood.
“I grew up in a borderland. My family moved a couple times, but we usually lived on or near the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. I went to school in the nearby town of Bemidji with plenty of other native kids and many more whites. … Indians could be terrifying to members of the white community, and when presented with angry looks and few opportunities to safely learn about their neighbors and the first people of the land, they usually just stuck to their imaginings.”
Review: Treuer “offers a balanced, frank and enlightening look inside Indian culture, shattering stereotypes that swing between romanticism … and racism. ... What Treuer makes clear is the eye-opening diversity of Indian cultures,” wrote book critic Chuck Leddy for the Star Tribune. “Treuer's wide-ranging and highly illuminating Q&A will help correct the historical record and clear up misconceptions.”
Read more: PAW’s article on Treuer in the June 2, 2010, issue.