This is the first installment in our Q&A series called You Wanted to Know. It is based on the book by Anton Truer titled Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. The excerpts we use from the book are published here with permission. They are partial in nature and do not represent Anton’s complete answer to the question.
Not usually. Europeans do not usually live in straw huts or ride horses as their primary means of transportation. And Indians do not usually live in historic dwellings or travel by foot, dogsled, or horse.
At NRC, we often hear of similar questions: Do you still wear buckskins? Do you have a bow and arrow? Are you a rich casino Indian? All such questions relate to the stereotype of American Indians that is borne of movies and perceived as reality by most people in this country.
Yaqui Apache John Sanchez asked a group of newspaper editors an important question: Where did you learn most about American Indians? The #1 answer was TV. When he asked a group of teachers the same question, their answer was the same.
Sanchez concludes, “People who write about American Indians don’t know a thing about American Indians.” In this video, he stresses the need to learn more about American Indians and other cultures so that people are better able to distinguish between stereotypes and facts. Sanchez also suggests that the best exposure can come through school systems mandating diversity studies related to American Indians, as well as African American, Latino, and Asian cultures. We encourage everyone to watch his video.
**NRC will be publishing the next installments in this Q&A series on the fourth Tuesday of each month throughout 2012.
Credits: Treuer, Anton (2012-05-01). Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, published by Borealis Books.