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American Indians: Answers to Today's Questions
(Second Edition Revised and Enlarged)

By Jack Utter

Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma Press, 2001
494 pp., $39.95 hardcover
ISBN 0-8061-3313-9
Order from Amazon

American Indians - Answers to Today's Questions is a well-written book designed to provide answers to the lay person on some of the most basic, and most complex, questions about American Indian life, practices, stereotypes, etc. The author is Jack Utter, a former visiting professor of federal Indian law history at Northern Arizona University and Prescott College, who now works for the Navajo Nation's Water Code Administration. Utter admits this book was not geared for academia, but for the general public in an effort to dispel some of the ignorance that exists regarding Indian history and life.

Divided into sections, American Indians covers different aspects of American Indian life. Part I: "The Discovery Issue," discusses the ancestry of American Indians today, as well as the controversial Discovery Doctrine. Part II: "Questions & Answers," is divided into topics such as "Indian People;" "Myth, Misinformation, and Stereotype;" "Culture and Religion," "The Bureau of Indian Affairs," and "Gaming" to name a few. Part III, "A Summary History of United States Indian Policy," containing appendices on Native Hawaiian issues, Indian and Eskimo peoples of the Pacific Northwest, Congressional resolutions, and other documents. This book also has a 40-page bibliography for those looking for additional information.

Well written, geared toward a layman (read "non-Indian"), this book gives thoughtful answers to many questions about Indian issues. From simple questions like "Who is an Indian?" to more complex questions like "What is the meaning and derivation of the term 'Indian self-determination?'" Each question and answer gives the reader more detail into Indian life today. There are even some irreverent questions, such as "What do Indians think of the 'New Age' non-Indians?" (opinions range from "silly," to "greatly offensive").

An interesting question was "What is the 'politically correct' term to use in referring to American Indians?" For many years the "P.C." term has been "Native American." Yet, anyone born in America can be considered Native American, making the use of this designation stickier. In addition, under various U.S. laws and regulations, this term covers more than just Indians, but includes Native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, American Samoans, Chamorros of Guam, and the native peoples of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Republic of Palau. Perhaps we should instead follow the lead of former Indian Country Today editor, Tim Giago. His editorial policy included the terms "American Indian," "Indian," and "Native American," but the preference was, whenever possible, to use the individual tribal designation (Navajo, Laguna, etc.). We had this very discussion with a board member once who indicated that tribal affiliation was the preferred recognition, and one that we urge people to follow.

The Second Edition of American Indians features new items such as the listing of useful web sites, extended quotes, a new section on Indian Gaming, and the inclusion of an Index. He has also updated many of the questions, added new questions brought forth by readers of the first edition, expanded the section on "Warfare," updated tables, and included an expanded section on Native Hawaiians. The various sources of information gathered by Utter makes this an excellent basic reference manual, and a guide for those searching for further information about American Indians - past and present.

— Annette Aguayo

Order from:
University of Oklahoma Press
4100 28th Ave. NW
Norman, OK 73069-8218
405-325-2291
www.ou.edu/oupress



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