Category Archives: American Indians

I is for Indian

As every American fifth-grader knew when I was growing up, the aboriginal people of the Americas were called Indians because the Europeans who headed west to get east thought that they had reached Asia, probably the East Indies (Indonesia, et al), but it is THIS place that’s involved in the current discussion:

There developed real confusion when saying Indian whether one meant someone from the Asian subcontinent or from the Americas.

Subsequently, there was a movement by some Americans to use the term Native American instead of American Indian as more “sensitive” to the first Americans. Yet there were and are many entities that still use the term Indian, from the American Indian Movement to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the US Department of the Interior to the new Museum of the American Indian, pictured above, which incidentally is staging an exhibition of Native American comic art.

So what do the people involved feel? Seems from this article that there is really no consensus:

A 1995 Census Bureau Survey of preferences for racial and ethnic terminology (there is no more recent survey) indicated that 49% of Native people preferred being called American Indian, 37% preferred Native American, 3.6% preferred “some other term,” and 5% had no preference. As The American Heritage Guide to English Usage points out, “the issue has never been particularly divisive between Indians and non-Indians.

In the end, the term you choose to use (as an Indian or non-Indian) is your own personal choice…The recommended method is to refer to a person by their tribe, if that information is known…[W]henever possible an Indian would prefer to be called a Cherokee or a Lakota or whichever tribe they belong to.

The 2010 Census is coming up and the Bureau will be using “American Indian or Alaska Native” as the designation for native peoples, just as it did in 2000. At least one of the reasons may lie in this true story I heard from someone who works at the Bureau. Census forms are tested periodically. In some neighborhoods with large immigrant populations, Census was finding an anomaly; a large number of people were checked as Native American, often inconsistently within a family structure. It soon became evident that the new arrivals were checking their country of origin for themselves, but their children who were born here they designated as Native American. The children WERE native to America.

Still, I am still quite uncomfortable referring to the Major League Baseball team in Cleveland or the National Football League team in suburban Washington, DC by their respective nicknames. It just feels wrong to me. At least the NFL team doesn’t have that dopey grinning logo, Chief Wahoo, which reminds me very much of the caricatures of black people in old minstrel shows.

For those of you not into sports or from the United States, the topic of sports nicknames “honoring” Indians at the high school, college or professional level has been an ongoing debate, as you can see, for instance, in this article.


March Ramblin'

As in March 33rd:
From here:
A Toronto university student will not be expelled for running a Facebook study group that his school had argued constituted cheating. Ryerson University’s Faculty Appeals Committee announced the decision to spare Chris Avenir on Tuesday afternoon, a week after his expulsion hearing.

The 18-year-old will be required to take a course on academic misconduct and will have a note on his transcript saying he was disciplined, said Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students Union. Avenir will also get a zero on one of his assignments, worth 10 per cent of his course grade, Loreto said.”

Avenir’s lawyer said Tuesday that Avenir has not yet decided if he will appeal the decision. “It’s a finding he’s not at all comfortable with. He doesn’t believe that it’s fair or appropriate,” lawyer John Adair said.
I don’t think it’s fair or appropriate, either.
31 Days to Building a Better Blog. At one point I started doing this, but it fell apart.
An old friend is starting a grassroots effort to get Andrew Jackson off the twenty dollar bill. This is due to his heinous and illegal actions in the Indian Removal. I have found that most people I talk to about it really have no idea just what he did. They start off being amused at this nutty notion of mine and get serious very fast when hearing the facts. I believe that the time is ripe to get this mass murderer off the twenty. We need to stop offending and disrespecting our American Indian citizens by making them look at his face every time they see a twenty dollar bill. To that end, I am drawing Hitler moustaches on every twenty that passes through my hands, and also putting the address of my website, on the bills also. If people who feel as I do started doing the same, and started spreading the idea by word of mouth, I believe we can bring awareness to large numbers of people, and begin to move towards the process of actually getting him removed. It’s a small thing in comparison to all the other injustices, and something I have been called to do.
Please visit my site, and consider joining me in my efforts. Also, pass this on to whomever you think might be interested.

I happen to think drawing Hitler mustaches on $20 bills is silly; using a rubber stamp would be far more effective.