Re: Natives

Adrian Tanner (atanner@MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA)
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 17:38:36 -0330

Thanks Matt Tomaso and Reto Bulmer for your thoughtful reponses to my
question of why the Eskimo (or Inuit) are not generally classified as a sub
grouping of 'Indians', where this is used as a cover term for other North
and South American Indians. I am replying to you together because, although
you each make important other points, you both responded to my hypothesis
with the similar point, which is that the reason for classifying them
separately is due to the more recent time of arival.

I apologise for obviously not making myself clear in my post. I was not
questioning why in our scientific discouse we anthropologists (and our
archeological sub-clan) do not include Eskimo (or Inuit) within the Indian
group. Nor was I making the suggestion that we (or anyobe else) *ought* to
classify Eskimo as a sub-group of Indians. Rather, I was questioning why, in
general English language useage, among both Canadians and Americans, this
category inclusion does not exist and did not historically occur. It seems
to me it might well have done.

The term 'Indians', however much a misnomer, was in popular useage as a
general cetegory term for all the different aboriginal inhabitants of North
America at a relatively early date, before any of the 'Eskimo' groups had
been encoutered or had entered the popular vocablary. In my first post on
the topic I pointed out that some of the earliest references I have seen to
'Eskimo', from 17th Century Labrador, they are spoken of as being 'Indians'.
Yet this useage of Eskimo as a sub-group of Indians did not last. It is not
my impression that popular useage was attentive to scientific
classifications of people, nor did it await the discoveries of
anthropologists and linguists to establish the relatively recent arrival of
the Thule Eskimo (not to speak of the rather earlier arrival dates of the
previous Dorset and other Eskimo cultures).

What the remarks in my post regarding 'Ethnicity' theory were intended to
suggest were that this separate popular classification of Indians from
Eskimos by European settlers requires explanation (to which I offer the
suggestion of different physical appearence). Time of arrival could not have
been a salient feature in making this category distinction.

Hope this clarifies what I was trying to say

Adrian Tanner, Dept of Anthropology, Memorial University, St John's,
Newfoundland, Canada. A1C 5S7. email Tel 709 737
8868 fax 737 8686