Book Discussion Questions for Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer:
- As narrated in the Introduction, the college-aged Tony Treuer has an encounter with a naked white woman in which he is extremely gracious, despite his first impulses – how does that story represent what he is doing in the book as a whole?
- Although Treuer sets the book up as an informational source for whites and other non-Indians, in what ways do you think he intended this to benefit Native peoples?
- If the book were a quiz, how well would you have scored? What did you know already, where would you have gotten “partial credit,” and in what areas was the material completely new to you?
- What surprised you in the book?
- The publisher’s blurb for Treuer’s book suggests, accurately, that sometimes whites or other non-Indians don’t ask questions because they’re afraid the questions will come across as offensive. Which questions in the book do you think would in fact be offensive?
- Now that you’ve finished the book, what patterns stand out to you about the book itself, about Native cultures, about the lives of Native Americans today?
- Were there any places where you felt guilty in the book? Treuer himself says in the introduction that guilt is not helpful, unless it leads to better situations – so how could you turn your feelings of guilt (if you had them) in a positive direction?
- If an individual white person apologizes to a Native person for everything that has been done to Native Americans, it might or might not be well-received – what is the problem with that kind of statement, even if well-intended?
- Did reading this book make you more likely to attend a powwow?
- How does Anton Treuer’s own personality come through in the book? What kind of a person does he seem to be?
- Treuer’s father was an immigrant from Austria who in fact had escaped the Nazi Holocaust as a young child, but whose whole family was completely wiped out. How might that have played a role in Treuer’s writing of this book?
– questions contributed by James Postema, Professor of English, Concordia College