July 02, 2006

Indians know stereotyping

Stereotyping--beyond political correctnessAs American Indians know, we are probably the "poster children" of stereotyping. True, many stereotyping comments come out of the mouths of people who are unaware of the culture and lifestyles of tribal nations, but sincerely want to learn, it must be said. They are good people who do not mean to offend and would be shocked to think they have offended.

I have to smile at this point when I think about some of the questions and comments I heard in my travels around the nation. "Tell us about the teepees you live in." "Who is your medicine man?" And my favorite: "I have a relative who was a Indian princess." These may be stereotypes, but they also are from people who may be merely uninformed. I take such comments lightly.

But words such as savage (or adding "Fighting" to the name of a tribal group), buck, squaw and papoose do not bring to mind the same images as do the words man, soldier or baby. Those, I do not take lightly.

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