Minnesota Historical Society

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

$ 17.95

Author Anton Treuer

Minnesota Historical Society Press (May 1, 2012)

More than one hundred stereotype-debunking questions—thoughtful, awkward, and searching—answered with solid information, humor, and compassion.


“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.

Author information

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 Saint 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.

More MNHS Press books by Anton Treuer

Reviews and news

Advance Praise:

“Nothing quite like this book has been available previously. Summing up: Essential.” CHOICE

“Straightforward, fascinating, funny, and often wise, Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask is a wonderful resource for non-Indians and Indians too. (There are plenty of things we want to know about each other.) It is that rare thing—an informational and entertaining read.”
Louise Erdrich

“This book marks Anton Treuer’s shift from an expert on Ojibwe history and language to one of the most powerful tribal voices on most things Indian. Informed, compassionate, funny, and provocative, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask is a truly needed and compelling read.”
Rex Lee Jim, Vice President of Navajo Nation

Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians does more than answer the questions. It raises other questions about civilization and religion. It does what a book should do.”
Basil Johnston, award winning author of The Manitous and many other books on Ojibwe history and culture

“Anton Treuer is a consummate bridge-builder. Patient and pointed in equal measure, Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians inspires readers to embrace human commonality—and when confronted with issues of social and cultural difference, to engage our better natures.”
Philip J. Deloria, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan, and author of Indians in Unexpected Places

“President John F. Kennedy said it best in 1960: ‘American Indians remain probably the least understood and most misunderstood Americans of us all.’ I highly recommend this extraordinary book that makes every effort to set the record straight.”
Tim Giago (Oglala Lakota), President, Unity South Dakota Foundation

In the Media:

Twin Cities PBS

Vox Magazine

NPR's Tell Me More Interview

MPR: Minnesota Writers Week: Anton Treuer

C-SPAN Book TV After Words Interview

Star Tribune Review

MPR Interview

Almanac Interview

Indian Country Today book excerpt


Video: Facing Race Keynote Address by Dr. Anton Treuer (starts at 8:00 minute mark)

MPR Interview “When Halloween costumes cross a cultural line”


Answers to some of the questions in the book

Native American Heritage Month Interviews on NPR’s Tell Me More:

Who is Native American, and who decides that?

Is Indian Country Still in the Great Depression?

Crash Course inn Music from Indian Country

Has Pop Culture Moved Beyond Cowboys and Indians?

Behind the Native American Achievement Gap

Full interview on NPR’s Tell Me More


Anton Treuer's Event Page

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 184 pages
  • 20 b&w photos
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873518611

You also Viewed

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our daily email and get 50% off your first purchase.