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Anton Treuer

Ojibwe author answers questions about culture

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Anton Treuer, Minnesota Ojibwe author and professor of Ojibwe studies at Bemidji State University, answered questions about Native Americans Wednesday afternoon to promote his book, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Afraid to Ask."

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Treuer said his book addresses more than 100 stereotyped questions with solid information, humor and compassion. He spoke Wednesday at the Park Rapids Area Library.

After moving away from his home in northern Minnesota to attend school at Princeton he realized he needed to return to educate people about Native American culture.

He explained that there isn't one correct term for Native Americans. It is fine to use Indian, indigenous, Native or Ojibwe or Dakota for people from specific tribes.

"What I do is use them all," he said.

He wants people to feel comfortable asking questions about his culture rather than "walking around on egg shells."

Treuer wants Native American children to learn about their history in school just like other kids are able to learn about their history.

"Everyone should know about the history of this area, the chiefs," he said.

Someone asked how casinos and gambling have affected Native American culture.

"Before casinos, the unemployment rate in Indian country was 50 percent now it's 20 to 37 percent," he said.

It's still too high, Treuer said of the unemployment rate.

Another question was asked about child welfare placements.

It's a very complicated process, Treuer said.

Now, social services is supposed to look toward family first, then the community and tribe before placing a child with a stranger. This doesn't always happen, though, he said.

Treuer encouraged people to continue asking questions about Native American culture to learn the history of the area.

He said he is always open to answering questions and he can be contacted at antontreuer@yahoo.com or atreuer@bemidjistate.edu.

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Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
(218) 732-3364
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