Re: Natives [LONG]

Matt Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 08:53:11 -0600

In a well articulated discussion of the practice and implications of naming
communal identities (or ethnicities, if you prefer) Tanner opened up the
question of the structural distinction between the concepts: 'Inuit' and
'Indian.' The 'racialism' explanation offered is certainly related to the
continuity of this discourse, but is not, by any means, the whole story.
"Racialism" strikes me as a reduction. Genetic and linguistic data still
support a different time of migration and a different ancestral Asian
population for these two 'metagroups,' (and, I believe, a third for the
Aleuts), so, despite the social consequences of these groups, sceintific
discourses will likely continue to support their division. The choice of
terms (more often 'Eskimo' than Inuit, for example) and to what extent this
plays into various power agendas, however, IS something we need to be weary
of. Fortunately, even most of the folks doing the linguistics and genetics
on these issues tend to avoid terms like 'indian' these days. But on and on
it goes - there is a certain irony in the fact that 'indian' is now a
perfectly acceptable self-acriptive term for many.

Matt Tomaso
U. Texas Austin

It is a sick and beautiful world.