Re: Russ Jones and Native American
Ted Burton (ted.burton@MCCALL.ID.US)
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 09:19:08 -0600
At 14:43 -0600 on 10/6/97, J. Hugh Sullivan mailed Russ Jones and Native
>I am not, however, an American Indian. I suspect most people on
>this group are native Americans.
Ain't English wonderful! We can get into passionate debates in which the
original thought is set aside as we argue over the wording used to express
that thought that all understood and most agreed with.
As for the original thought that relatively few of us are "Native American"
or "American Indian" or Eniskitompowauog or Kaniengehaka and so forth:
There was a lengthy period in Euro-American culture history when it was
socially unacceptable if not downright dangerous to be "Indian;" many
Eniskitompowauog or Kaniengehaka or Tsalagi and so forth who avoided the
successive expulsions to successive patches of real estate promised falsely
to be Indian Country forever, and remained in areas predominantly
Euro-American, undertook to become socially invisible. The only way to do
that was to claim to be Euro-American, possibly Italian, or Greek, or
Hungarian, or sunburned, or however survival presented itself. The census
pushed many to claim White or Black; children were not told of their
heritage in order to avoid the risk that children would tell others. The
bottom line is, that many more of you are descended from the
Eniskitompowauog or Kaniengehaka or Tsalagi and so forth than know it.
Yes, if "native American" is defined as anyone born in the Western
Hemisphere, then the overwhelming majority of us from Tierra del Fuego to
Point Barrow are "native American." That of course begs the issue raised by
the original correspondent.
It is not common for Scouts and Scouters to be principally descended, and
also aware of it, from the occupants of the [now] United States who
occupied it before the English settled in Virginia and New England. Many
more Scouts and Scouters are descended in part from those inhabitants, but
don't know it.
On those mailing lists that cater to descendants of those inhabitants and
their camp followers, there are occasional debates about the correct
terminology one might correctly use to describe oneself. There are
passionate adherents to Native American, Indian, Indin, Injun, First
Nations, Original Peoples. Aboriginal inhabitants is favored by some
anthropologists, but smacks of put-down.
There is only one correct name for any descendants of those inhabitants:
their word for themselves in their own language. Most tribes/bands/clans of
which I have any knowledge lacked a word for all 'Indians' as a group,
because there was no not-Indian in their experience. There were words for
all the Peoples around this locality, as opposed to those People over there
in some other locality. Thus the Eniskitompowauog had words that related to
the Kaniengehaka, and vis versa, some polite, and some not. But there were
no words for all of the Peoples together.
In the Nanhiganeuk (Narragansett) language there were several words for the
English used after the English got here: they were based on terms meaning
stranger: awaunagus (s) awaunagussuk (pl.), and the word for "coat" as the
wearing of a coat all the time was strange to the Nanhiganeuk. That
coat-based word escapes me at the moment.
Those of us who live/have lived in Alaska might be interested to consider
the term 'awaunagussuk' for its current shortened North Slope descendant in
my mind likely communicated to the Inupiat by a wandering Nanhigan whaler.
Be that all as it may, we can either debate semantics, or we can accept the
thought offered by the correspondent even if we would ourselves phrase it
As for myself, n'nanhigan(!)/kaniengehaka(?) & n'awaunagus; and there are
damned few of us anywhere.
Yours in service,
Thank you for listening. Ted Burton, Ore-Ida 106, Tukarica 266,
Alappiechsu Wiechcheu I <<<=-=<I=-=<<< I Talks-Fast Wolf
D.Eagle Rep., Chapter Adviser, Hemene Chapter
Pack 246 MC, Troop 246 MC, Post 246 COR
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