Discussion Questions

 Book Discussion Questions for Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. What surprised you in the book?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. Did reading this book make you more likely to attend a powwow?
  10. How does Anton Treuer’s own personality come through in the book? What kind of a person does he seem to be?
  11. 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