September 08, 2006

"Squaw" making a comeback?

County commissioners seek to restore 'squaw' nameCounty commissioners want to restore the name "squaw" to 14 places in Piscataquis County more than six years after a state law was passed requiring that mountains, waterways and other public places called "squaw" or "squa" be renamed.

The Piscataquis County commissioners sent a letter last month to Gov. John Baldacci asking to change the places in the county that were renamed "moose" back to their original name of "squaw."


Rob said...

The weight of opinion seems to be that "squaw" wasn't an Algonquian word for "vagina" after all. See Squelching the S-Word for details.

Anonymous said...

Squaw - in Plains Cree can be traced to means "women or woman" be called a squaw is to be called a woman.

signed, Cree Woman in Plains Country/Canada

Rob said...

Okay, Anonymous, but most people think the word originated on the East Coast among the Algonquian-speaking Indians. Are you saying the same word originated in two places independently?

According to the dictionary, "squaw" dates from the early 1600s. New Englanders were using it long before they traveled west and met the Plains Cree.


[Origin: 1625–35, Americanism; < Massachusett (E sp.) squa, ussqua woman, younger woman < Proto-Algonquian *eθkwe·wa]

Anonymous said...

Rob, not sure how much you know about us Peoples' but Plains Cree Peoples' are categorized in the Algonquin linguistic group. Therefore, the term for 'woman' may be very similar in both languages - as they are from the same linguistic family, same as Ojibway/Anishnawbe - many words are similar. I'll leave it up to you to decipher if it was possible for both Nations to have the same word exist simultanously....

AND I'll leave it up to some 'Academic' to study at university and get a graduate degree by studying 'the roots of the use of term "Eskwewyak" in North American colonial times'??????

signed, Plains Cree woman/Canada

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the original meaning of the term "squaw," its evolved meaning is offensive and there is substance behind why it is so considered.

Throughout contact between indigenous and colonial persons in North America, "squaw" was a term often used to dehumanize, commodify, and exoticize American Indian/First Nations women and girls. Anthropologists have found that white Europeans in positions of authority over native individuals, such as school teachers, at one time used "squaw" and other racial slurs to belittle and degrade their Indian school children. These children explicitly stated their resentment of school being linked to this term and others being used against them.

The term "negro" was at once time commonly considered by persons of color to be innocent or accurate for their identity. Consider how many such people would respond today.