Re: What to call Native Americans
The Payne Family (payne5@SWBELL.NET)
Thu, 16 Oct 1997 01:49:45 -0500
Stephen Puetz wrote:
> Regarding Mary Lee Foley's "we don't know any better and I'm curious".
> It has been my experience that non-Indian people spend too much time
> wondering what to call us. We use derogatory names to express our
> disapproval of an individual while labeling and entire group of people.
> We spend considerable time trying to develop more politically correct
> labels and totally ignore the individuals involved.
> Indian people do not necessarily subscribe to such political correctness
> among themselves. Three common questions are asked when Indian people
> meet. What is your name, who are your people and where do you come
> from? This information is most accurately transmitted in our original
> Non-Indian people have a propensity to group the 565 seperate and
> distinct nations of the hemisphere, (not including those not recognized
> by the U>S> Govt or those exterminated) into a single category,
> "Indians". We may refer to ourselves as Indians to differentiate
> ourselves from Non-Indians as a single group of people who have suffered
> in common as the result of colonial expansion and a common cause in our
> political efforts to retain and preserve our sovereignty, cultures,
> contractual treaty rights, and most importantly our rights to be treated
> with the same respect and dignity as our counter-parts expect to be
While there is a constant effort by
> White America to assimilate all people of color into one big happy
> family and mold others seen as different by virtue of skin pigmintation
> or ideology into their idea of what people should be or their own image.
> We on the other hand are desperately trying to hold onto our ways
> because that is what was given to us by the Creator and we are told by
> our elders that is the way things are suppose to be. Not because they
> are better than White ways but because these things and ways are better
> for us.
> My suggestion is, rather than spending so much time and effort trying to
> figure out what label is most politically correct to call us. You take
> that valuable time and try to get to know the people you are trying to
> find a suitable label for.
Remember that these same ideals belong to many of us labeled as "white
people", too. I am of Irish and Hawai'ian heritage. Both of these
peoples have a long history of being oppressed by other "white" people.
My culture(s) have been stolen, to include the near death of my
language, native dress, etc. I am an American, proud to be one, and
also aware and proud of my cultures' histories. Many of us "white"
people CAN empathize with other oppressed people, while proudly living
in today's America. Here's to embracing our differences and celebrating
Remember, no ethnic group thinks or believes as one. Russell Means, a
well known American aboriginal activist says that the term Indian is
fine. We are still really all individuals.
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City