Author, Anton Treuer, shared how this book came to be. When he was younger, he heard about a lady conducting a sweat lodge and went to check it out. When he arrived, there were a bunch of naked people. An elderly naked woman hugged him and said she was sorry for how her people had treated his people in history. He didn’t have the heart to laugh or turn her away. He politely asked her to put on some clothes and sat down with her to answer all her questions. This began his journey into helping non-natives understand natives.
The first part of the book covers the heartbreaking history natives endured beginning with Columbus through the boarding schools of the 1900’s. These are the stories that are not always told in educational history books.
The middle part of the books answers common questions about culture and governmental practices. He has nine children. Only three of them are registered. His family went to a Christmas party where “Santa” was giving gifts and was told only the three registered children qualified for a gift. “Santa” should not be used in that way.
The end of the book includes personal experiences he has had in his lifetime. In the first grade, Anton had long hair. His teacher brought him to the front of the class and dressed him up like girl, with makeup and barrettes while she and everyone laughed. It was humiliating for him. I’m guessing she didn’t ask him first if he wanted to do it. Teachers need to understand that they can help or hurt a child’s self-esteem by their words and actions.
I have a grand-baby who is of mixed race. I hope when she gets older that she doesn’t experience any mistreatment. I don’t live near her so I won’t be able to protect her from unkind words. I hope she will be raised to love all people and appreciate the goodness of individuals.
I hope to see education begin to include positive contributions people of all races have made and the progress that has been made in the past 50 years. Our country had a flawed beginning but we can change the future to a story we want our kids to hear. Honest conversations and understanding are a good start.
The author also has a young reader’s edition I want to read as well. It wasn’t at my library but I plan on finding it.