Re: Amerind an offensive term (was: Early Amerind assimilation

M. Council (
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 13:27:20 -0400

On Tue, 30 Jul 1996, Stephen Barnard wrote:
[snipped for brevity]

> Here's the real deal:
> When I want to refer to, shall we say, "the people (and their
> descendants) who participated in the Early Contact Period who weren't
> of European descent," then I face a problem. What can I call them
> that will be (1) clear and unambiguous, and (2) not give offense.
> Indians? No. That's ambiguous and offensive to some people.
> Aborigines? No. That's already used for Australians in common speech
> and would probably be offensive since it implies primitive.
> Native Americans? No. That's ambiguous and very slightly offensive
> to me, since I'm a native (small n) American.
> Amerind? Nope. Offensive.
> Do you see the problem? I'd really like a solution to this. I'm not
> comfortable feeling like I'm about to be pounced on for racism at any
> moment.

Why don't you ask the people what they would like to be called? That
is possible by picking up a phone and calling your nearest rez, or
even posting the question in the proper spirit on alt.native.

By searching for a single term, you are participating in the
perpetuation of a stereotype. The indigenous people in what is now
referred to as the USA in dominant culture numbered before
contact several hundred distinct languages and as many religions.

Perhaps instead of asking what to call them all, ask yourself why
you seem to need to find a word to encompass all of them,
when they are not all the same?

just my two cents

------------------------------------m. council, human being
Hell, if you understood
everything I say, you'd
be me. -Miles Davis