March 05, 2009

"Indian" term dying out?

In "American Indian" vs. "Native American" I made the case that "Indians" is the preferred term for Indians. In response, Oscar Morales wrote:Sorry, Rob Schmidt, not buying your diatribe/screed.

Outmoded terminology may be historically logged in official gov't records, but that does not make it right. Do you really think the 1996-2006 Congress or that that the 2001-2008 Executive cared a whit about correcting outdated terminology? That they had any concern at all?

Jeez, even the foremost black organization, NAACP, has that name simply because they had to refer to themselves in terminology that was socio/culturally acceptable in the day and age of their founding. You can rest assured they realized they would gain nothing by inflaming the ire of racist xenophopic white males. They were smart enough to know that being confrontational would only get them the business end of the police baton, the firehoses, and the attack dogs.

Unfortunately, for a brave few in Mississippi/Alabama, but luckily for the rest of America, that started changing in the late 50's/60's.

In the meantime, a lot of outdated terms still remain. It'll change, slowly, but surely, it will change. As all you old, racist bazturds slowly but surely die out, we younger, more accepting Americans will change things. Of course, whatever offspring you've managed to indoctrinate with your nonsense will remain obstructionist, but they too will eventually die out.

Put that in your sock and smell it!!
My response:  "Diatribe/screed" is Morales's term for "explanation with evidence," I gather.

I sure wish all comments were this easy to knock down. The original posting explains how Indians use and prefer the term "Indians." Morales didn't touch this explanation, much less try to rebut it. He simply fantasized that it and the evidence for it doesn't exist.

The key point Morales simply doesn't understand is, again, that Indians use and prefer the term "Indians." Therefore, it doesn't matter what non-Natives like me do. The only way the term "Indians" will die out is if Indians themselves die out.

Needless to say, Morales has zero evidence that the term "Indians" is being replaced by the more academic "Native Americans." I'm pretty sure the evidence would prove the opposite--that "Native Americans" is dwindling in use as people become comfortable with "Indians" or "Natives." Thus, newer concepts such as gaming are labeled "Indian gaming" and not "Native American gaming."

But if you want to prove me wrong, Oscar, go for it. Show us the evidence that the term "Indian" is dying out. Spare us the worthless posturing and put up or shut up.

Alexie weighs in

Coincidentally, Sherman Alexie just expressed his opinion on the matter:LJ: I notice you used the term “Indian” several times rather than something like Native American. I think that’s really interesting, because a lot of people are like, “No, we’re not!” And so…

Alexie: Indians call each other Indians. As soon as you hear an Indian say “Native American,” you know there’s a non-Indian in the room. You know, just trying to make you feel bad. I mean, Native American is just as inaccurate. “Native American” means “anybody born in the Americas.” If you want to get technical, you’d have to go with “indigenous,” which actually isn’t all that accurate either, considering we all came from a man and a woman in Africa. Those two were indigenous. Everyone is else is “Eehh?” “First Nations” works, but that’s arrogant. It pretty much all comes down to Indian. Beyond that, it comes down to the name of your tribe—but there’s 2,000 of us, and nobody really gives a crap.
Alexie merely reiterates the position held by the vast majority of Indians. But people like Oscar Morales clearly don't get it and need to hear it again.

When Alexie says there's "a non-Indian in the room," I think he's talking about Morales. Morales may know something about history, but I doubt he knows much about Native history.

I suspect Morales is a high-minded Latino who thinks he's being "down" with Indians by embracing the term "Native Americans" instead of "Indians." If so, how pathetically misguided can you get?

P.S. As for "NovaMundians," the term preferred by Kiowa writer Russell Bates, there hasn't been the slightest movement toward it in the last year. Like Russ himself, this silly neologism is one year closer to the grave.


Anonymous said...

Has anyone seriously looked into the possibility that the word Indians (which BTW I agree is used most often by Indians)is an English corruption of the Spanish "indigenas?" Sure sounds similar and would make a lot more sense than the "Columbus thought he was in India" myth.

Anonymous said...

Columbus or not, Indians are people from India. We are from North America and native to this land. Native is "one who belongs to a country by birth". We are Native American or Native. Not Indian. If you don't know non-natives born in this country don't refer to themselves as Native American they simply call themselves American.

Rob said...

In⋅di⋅an  /ˈɪndiən/

1. Also called American Indian, Amerind, Amerindian, Native American. a member of the aboriginal people of America or of any of the aboriginal North or South American stocks, usually excluding the Eskimos.

2. any of the indigenous languages of the American Indians.

3. a member of any of the peoples native to or inhabiting India or the East Indies.

4. a citizen of the Republic of India.

I explained why "Indian" is the preferred term among Indians, Anonymous. If you didn't read or grasp this explanation, it's still there and it's still valid.

As an analogy, someone who calls himself an Athenian may live in Georgia or Greece. I suggest you deal with the fact that words have multiple meanings.

No, I've never heard anyone claim that "indio" (Spanish for "Indian") was a corruption of "indigena," Atlatl. It's a plausible theory--at least as plausible as the other theories.

kalisetsi said...

Whenever I hear people debating the use of "Native American" versus "American Indian" or "Indian" anymore, its always non-Indians doing the debating. Sorry Rob, but I have to call you out on calling Morales a "high-minded Latino who thinks he's 'down' with Indians." I don't want to use the "H" word, but its bordering on the pot calling the kettle black. Seriously, Rob, do you think that by getting Sherman Alexie's feedback on it that you now have the definitive and universal "red thumbs" up?? lol. I'm personally a big fan of Alexie, but he is very mainstream and also viewed by many as veering towards the apple side.

The irony of this really cracks me up, becuase not too long ago you got on Redskin magazine and all the Native people affiliated with it, because you find the name offensive(and I will agree with you that it is; I'm well aware of the history of it). However, if you will recall at that time I called you out on the fact that it's presumptuous for you as a non-Native to think you know whats better for Natives than Natives themselves.

I've lived on both coasts and been around a lot of different people from all different backgrounds, and I will say that the number one way people identify is by their tribe, and after that, its a mix between Native, (honestly the only people who say "Native Americans" are non-Natives trying to be PC), Indian (commonly represented as NDN), Skin (much more common than 'redskin', which I don't really hear used), and even First Nations or Indigenous. A lot of it depends where someone is from- rez or city, U.S. or Canada, etc. But the truth is it varies from person to person, and sometimes people have VERY strong opinions about it one way or the other, so as with all things, the best approach is to simply pay attention or ask someone what they prefer to be called.

Anonymous said...

Rob ive read your blog for awhile now and I find that you are a brown nosing self loather who gets some sick personal satisfaction with stirring the pot of negativity. You make racist comments and stereotypical comments about white people. Watch your mouth! How dare you slander an entire race in a feeble attempt at brown nosing another race. People like you make me sick, because you are the ones who cause trouble. Ive seen you badger innocent children in your commentaries, trying to make all non natives out to be bumbling morons who have evil intentions. If I keep seeing this type of garbage from you and your friends who are into disparaging other races, I will see to it that blogger removes your blog entirely. Take your hate elsewhere!

Rob said...

Thanks for reiterating my position that "Indian" is commonly used, Kalisetsi. For a more detailed answer, see Indians Prefer Identification by Tribe.

Rob said...

Learn to read, Anonymous #2. I didn't say anything about whites in this posting, much less "slander an entire race." Apparently you're delusional as well as dumb, while my blog is still going strong after several years.