March 01, 2011

"Squaw skank" joke on Tonight Show

A controversy from December:Larry the Cable Guy management:

Parallel Entertainment
9255 Sunset Blvd. Suite 1040
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 279-1123

On December 4, Larry the Cable Guy told a joke using the word "squaw" followed by an intensely negative description on The Tonight Show. Has our country taken a giant step backward with this sudden rash of racism and hateful spewing by such celebrities as Michael Richards, Mel Gibson and now Larry the Cable Guy?

Celebrities are role models; their words travel around the globe and their fame depends on the support of the public. Comments made by well known, long established stars such as Michael Richards and Mel Gibson are astonishing in that they attack the very people who make their careers possible. Let's hope that Larry the Cable Guy makes a fast and sincere apology to Native Americans, who up until now have been a source of support for Larry.

The word "squaw" was derived by the early European traders from an Algonquin word that described women's genitalia and was used to refer to prostitutes. Its misuse has followed American Indian women throughout history and the meaning has evolved into common usage. Its meaning, however, has never escaped American Indian women who have always found it offensive. Larry the Cable Guy proved its prevalence in being used in a derogatory manner by accompanying the word squaw with the slang word "skank."

According to an article by Karen Hill and Linda Artichoke in "The Cherokee One Feather," "Native women are the most battered, most stalked, most murdered group of women in America" and that a Department of Justice report on violence "states the perpetrators of violence against Native American women are not Native 70 percent of the time."

Christine Rose
Executive Director
Changing Winds Advocacy Center
Gray Wolf adds his thoughts:I just don't know what I was thinking--I thought all Native people would be upset by some racist comic using a racial slur on national television, but I guess I was wrong! "Larry the Cable Guy" goes on the Jay Leno show and uses the term "squaw skank" in one of his jokes(?) and almost no one says anything about it. I remember once talking to my friend Irene Bedard and she said something to the effect that it was deemed okay to insult Native people because we were the invisible people--her words never rang truer than today when I tried to get people to say something about the offense against Native people and especially Native women--Native men are expected to protect Native women but it seems as though we have become so complacent that even such a derogatory comment as this does not warrant any action. I hear Native people complain that they are tired of such insulting treatment but when it comes down to doing something about it, no one does anything--well almost no one, I and a too few others are at least trying to make an issue of this. I have given you all the e-mail address of Mr. Cable Guy and also the number of Mohegan sun Casino where Mr. Cable Guy is booked in Sept.--it's okay for him to take our money but not okay to apologize for his behaviour. This is our fault for as long as we allow the disrespect, it will surely come. Yes Irene, we are the invisible people, but now we are forgetting about ourselves! Hopefully what I have written will touch some of you and you will decide to make a difference--it is time to STAND UP, SPEAK UP AND NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT for our dignity, for our future, for our children--you may write to mr. cable guy at or at his Myspace at tell them how you feel, see if our dignity is more important than the dollar.Comment:  I believe the joke went something like this:

"What do you call xxx?"
"The Squaw Skank Redemption."

I thought I reported on this incident or a similar one last year. But I can't find it in my blog, so I guess not. Maybe I was going to report on it but forgot.

For more on "squaw," see Vintage Indian Valentines and "The Squaw's Appeal" in Belle Magazine. For more on The Tonight Show, see Columbus Joke on Tonight Show and Immmigration Joke on Tonight Show.


Anonymous said...

Oh, bad pun. BAD pun!

Burt said...

If you come from a bastard culture, how do you recognize other cultures as legitimate forms of existence.

Its my guess that Larry the Cable Guy has a big enough conservative following that if he did apologize, his fanbase would only fuel more anti-Indian racism.

I never watch Leno anyway, I watch Letterman because Letterman doesn't let his guests have any leadway and besides, he pisses everyone off equally whether you are Richard Simmons or Bill O'Reilly!