May 18, 2008

Disreputable history of "squaw"

This posting contradicts the claim that "squaw" became a vulgarism only recently, when "politically correct" advocates twisted its meaning.

Back off / that wordAll Iroquoian children are cautioned early on not to use the word. In my own case, I clearly remember being quite small when I was told the word was "mean" and not to use it. When I got older, I was told what it did mean (cunt). This has been recorded by many Iroquois, starting long ago and continuing into the present. In the nineteenth century, a Mohawk Clan Mother told Indian agents not to use the word and what it meant, "mons veneris," which means "my sporting parts" in old French and "mound of Venus" in Latin.

In 1926, Arthur Parker was quite emphatic about disallowing use of the word in scholarly material, for just this reason, stating unequivocally what I was always told--long before I ever read Parker--"The Seneca do not use the term 'squaw.' With them it is a term of disrepute and is regarded as an obscene appellation."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Squaw" on the Way Out and Squelching the S-Word.

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