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‘What’s in a name?’ Or is it Native Americans, or Indian American, or First Nations, or First Peoples, or Red Indians, or what? The Power of Words and.

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Presentation on theme: "‘What’s in a name?’ Or is it Native Americans, or Indian American, or First Nations, or First Peoples, or Red Indians, or what? The Power of Words and."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘What’s in a name?’ Or is it Native Americans, or Indian American, or First Nations, or First Peoples, or Red Indians, or what? The Power of Words and American Indians Indians of North America Anthropology E-320 Larry J. Zimmerman, PhD, RPA Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

2 Salvador Dali’s “Dream of Christopher Columbus, 1959 Indians—the terms comes from Christopher Columbus and his use of “los indios”

3 Columbus is heroic to some.

4 He’s a villain to others… especially to Indians.

5 As maintained by some, such as Russell Means, Columbus didn't call the locals "Indians" but referred to them as "una geste in Dios", meaning "a people in God"; Problems: In this letter to the royal court soon after his arrival in 1493, Columbus repeatedly refers to India and Indians, and says nothing whatever about "a people in God." The Spanish word for people is gente, not geste. Refers to “las Indias” (the Indies) six times and “los indios” (the Indians) four times. For the Columbus letter in Spanish, see For the English translation: Beware of received wisdom and myth about los indios Russell Means in Denver Columbus Day Protest

6 In this course we use American Indians… But lots of other terms persist: Native American—objections: lots of non-Indians can be considered native Americans Native, often used in Canada—objections: native just means that you are born in some place First Nations, official use in Canada—objections: had profound political implications Indigenous—objections: see Native Red Indians—objections: uses skin color and too close to pejorative “redskins” First Peoples, official use in Canada, objections: people born in contemporary period same as anyone else Indian—objections: doesn’t distinguish from Asian Indians

7 “Does anybody really think Indians had anything to do with coining the term ‘Native American?’ We don’t call ourselves ‘Native American’ except in organization titles where the acronym works better than it would with an I. We call ourselves by our tribal names and Indians collectively, not because we don’t understand Columbus’ mistake but just out of habit. Any Indian who is offended by the choice of either ‘Indian’ or ‘Native American’ is just looking for a reason to be offended.” But, Indian is the common usage, even among Indians… Steve Russell, Cherokee, Assoc. Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington

8 How are you supposed to know which term to use? Realize that Indian, or any other term, is a non-Indian invention that has… political implications. a possibility of offending someone. a way of over-generalizing because it is a category. ramifications for self-image.

9 Our children are the least successful ethnic group in every level of education. Our children have the highest suicide rate of any ethnic group. Whether being mocked and stereotyped makes it worse could be debated, but there is no question that mascots don’t make it better. I myself am a high school dropout, made to believe Indians could not do formal education. Steve Russell About the matter of self-esteem…

10 “I always hated being the Indian. ‘Indian’ was kind of a dirty word to me. Indians were savages who beat up on innocent people. When I grew up in the 50s we always watched cowboy shows on TV. I always wanted to be a cowboy, never the Indian.” Leonard Bruguier, Ph.D. Inhanktonwan (Yankton Sioux)

11 Most prefer to be called by tribal names, but there are even problems with that. Many are names given by other tribes. Many are improper names given by Euroamericans. Tribal names often oversimplify great diversity. Sioux—probably given by the Chippewa, meaning lesser adder or snake Lakota, Nakota, or Dakota—commonly used and Siouan words, but reference is to linguistic groups Seven nations terms—Oceti Sakowin meaning the Seven Council Fires A good example Name issues show up on many tribal flags or seals


13 Things get more complicated… The eastern division was originally called Isanyeti, meaning Knife Makers. Today, they are known as the Santees and are comprised of four Bands; Mdewakanton (Spirit Lake Dwellers), Wahpkute (Shooter Among Leaves), Wahpeton (Dwellers Among the Leaves), and Sisseton (Fish Scales in the Village). The middle division consisted of the Yanktons or Inhanktonwan and Yanktonnais or Ihanktonwana (Village at the End). The western division is the Tetons (Dwellers on the Prairies). The Tetons are made up of seven bands: Oglala (“dust scatterers”), Sicangu (or Brulé, “burnt thighs” (with accent over e), Hunkpapa (“end of the circle”), Miniconjous (“planters beside the stream”), Sihasapa (or Blackfeet, different from the Blackfeet Tribe*), Itazipacola (or Sans Arc, “without bows”) and Oohenupa (“two kettles”). *This can get confusing, which is of course one of the problems using names assigned by non-Indians. Referring to the Blackfoot Sioux, sometimes also called Blackfeet, it is best to use the full name, Blackfoot Sioux, or better, Sihasapa. This will help to distinguish them from the Algonquian-speaking Blackfeet (sometimes called Blackfoot) nation of Montana. These folks call themselves Siksika and are relatives of the Piegan and Kainah (also called Blood) First Nations just across the border in Canada.

14 We still aren’t done… Most actually referred to themselves by their tiyospaye, or family unit. Examples: Wanaunsapi Tiyospaye, Pute Tiyospaye (Lip’s camp), Thunder Bull Tiyospaye Tiyospaye map of Pine Ridge

15 What did the nations call themsleves? Examples from the Northeastern Woodland Chippewa: Anishinabe*, Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Ojibway, Mississauga, Salteaux Cree: Ininiw*, Nehiyawak*, Atheneuwuck*, Sackaweéthinyoowuk* Deleware: Lenape* Fox: Meskwaki*, Mesquaki Huron: Wendat*, Wyandotte, Wyandot Iroquois: Kanonsionni*, Haudensaunee* Cayuga * Mohawk: Kaniengehawa* Oneida * Onondaga* Seneca: Onotowaka* Kickapoo: kiwegapaw*(?) Menominee: Manomini* Micmac: Souriquois* (?) Sauk: Sac, Oskaiwugi* Shawnee: Shawanwa*, Ouchaounanag, Chaouanons, Satanas, Shawano Wampanoag* (but also Pokanoket,, Nauset, Sakonnet Winnebago: Hochunga*, Ho-Chunk*, Puants Delaware/Lenni Lenape are a good example of the use of both names

16 In other words, there’s no such thing as an Indian, except for convenience! If possible, call people what they want to be called. If you “lump” recognize that you are doing so. Understand that your choice may have repercussions. Indians are among the most culturally diverse populations on the planet, with more than 560 federally recognized nations (US), more than 300 distinct languages and several thousand dialects, and a wide range of customs.

17 Tribes or Nations? Tribe has a connotation of groups that are poorly organized. Nations connote sophisticated governmental structure and sovereignty. Though tribe is used for convenience, nation is often preferred.

18 Place names connote a link to the original owners

19 Most of the great rivers of North America still have Indian names: Mississippi, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Wabash, Assiniboine, Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Athabasca, Potomac, Chattahoochee, Tallapoosa, Tallahatchie, Yukon, Kuskokwim, Congaree, Klamath, Sacramento, Quinnipiac, Suwannee, Oconee, Kennebec, Muskegon, Mohawk, Wabash, and Catawba, as well as hundreds of smaller rivers, creeks, and streams in every state and province. See Jack Weatherford’s “Naming of North America” from Native Roots - How The Indians Enriched AmericaNative Roots - How The Indians Enriched America

20 "Podunk," meant to describe a insignificant town out in the middle of nowhere, comes from a Natick Indian word meaning "swampy place." Even if you’re from Podunk Indiana, you are using an Indian word…

21 Derogatory terms are also a problem, especially when someone doesn’t know they are… Some are obvious: buck, redskin, savage Others are debated: squaw (does it come from Mohawk word ojiskwa' (sources vary on spelling), meaning vagina or another group meaning 'female, younger woman,' ?) Are special terms for minority women ever right, such as “Negress” or “Jewess?” Some are contextual: Is it okay to call any Indian man “chief?”

22 People names Most Indian people will never tell you that they speak for anyone else but themselves People’s non-Indian names are often indicators of their family heritage Their Indian names are often indicators of their character or some accomplishment They may have several Indian names during their lifetimes. Wannabe’s, especially, New Agers, are usually laughed at for their choice of quasi-Indian names

23 Isn’t it all just “political correctness” anyway? Political correctness has somehow become a negative instead of a positive it was supposed to be. What’s wrong with showing sensitivity to people’s sensitivities? Why go out of your way to insult someone when you know they are or might be offended by what you say? Mostly, the golden rule ought to apply. To willfully insult someone by your choice of words is to show that you have power over them…of which Indians have had enough!

24 So, are these folks founding fathers and pioneers who helped make our country great?

25 Or just another bunch of terrorists?

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