Re: Natives

Matt Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Wed, 21 Feb 1996 16:19:17 -0600

Tanner's problem (re: "Inuit" and "Indian" as labels possibly related to
appearance), thus clarified, becomes more and more interesting. What about
the possibility of "historical accident" (assuming you believe in this
The word "eskimo," I believe (it's been years since I've read anything about
the peoples of the north) comes from the Francoization of the word
"esquimaux" which was an insult ascribed to the Inuit by some of their
neighbors (literally "raw hide chewers"). And, if I remember correctly,
Russians and Aleut/Chukchians had ongoing contact with these folk long
before any of the major European (i.e. French, British) colonization efforts
in the north. i assume that I need not remind readers of the derivation of
"indians." Perhaps the classification scheme _does_ have something to do
with time of arrival - of the Russians and, later, the French - that is.
Perhaps the term "indian" was simply less culturally acceptible at this time
or among these particular colonial milieus. If so, then we have an
interesting example of linguistic structuration.
just a speculation...
Matt Tomaso
U. Texas Austin

It is a sick and beautiful world.