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

Chris Cracknell (
30 Jul 1996 20:01:56 -0400

In article <4tkrcc$>, Beth Williams) wrote:
>In <> Stephen Barnard <>
>>Indians? No. That's ambiguous and offensive to some people.
>I've yet to meet a *real* Indian who was offended by the term.

A *real* Indian? Do you mean someone from India? It's rather odd, but having
grown up in North America my whole life I had always associated the word
"Indian" with Native Americans. But now having spent some time in India
and being married to a woman from India I now tend to associate the word
"Indian" with people who are from India. And of course Indians from
India are none the less confused over the way in which term is used
over here.

Of course some people like to use East Indian for Indians from India,
and American Indian for the Native Americans. Still, while the
Native American peoples did migrate from Asia many thousands of
years ago the terms East Indian and American Indian somehow links the
two peoples more than they really are.

I've heard some people use the term "Native Indian" for Native North
Americans. This of course is no less confusing since my wife is a Native
of India and thus would be a Native Indian.

I can understand Native Americans not being offended by being addressed
by the term "Indian". It's been used for many hundreds of years and
everyone has pretty much gotten used to it. I know of no Hindus who are
offended by being called "Hindu" even though it is a term that was
assigned to them by Muslim invaders many centuries ago.

But I think the real issue here over the term "Indian" is one of

My country is populated with immigrants (actually, when you contemplate
it, the ancestors of everyone living in the Americas were, at one point
in time, immigrants) and a large number of these immigrants are from
India. Having two large, yet minority, and unrelated populations being
addressed by a single term is bound to cause some confusion.

So I can see why it would be that people would want to come up with a
better term for addressing Native Americans without offending them, and
without confusing them for people from India.

Of course it's the '90s, so I doubt we'll see any resolution to this
anytime soon. Nobody knows what to call anyone anymore. I have no idea
if I'm supposed to be called white, caucasian, Irish-Canadian, or
Canadian of Irish descent. One of the best lines about this sort of
thing was actually in an old episode of Star Trek. Abe Lincoln's clone
was aboard the Enterprise (sounds like a winner so far). He was being
introduced to Uhura and he said "What a charming Negress." He then
realized he had made a faux-pas and appaulogized. Uhura responded with
something to the effect of, "It's alright, we live in a time when people
no longer fear words.". I think that's one of the most classiest lines
I've ever heard and I certainly hope we don't have to wait for the 23rd
century before we can all claim it as truth.

But to be honest, I really wish that Columbus knew more about Indian culture
when he headed west so that he would not have mistaken the Indians for
being Indians.

Of course it would have been nicer still if Columbus and those who
followed him had known more about Native American culture. Maybe then
this continent could have been shared in peace instead of ravished by

But then again, the knowledge probably would have just made them more
efficient at their exploitation.

(Damned either way from hell!!!)

-=<Atari 2600 Collector and Wethifl Musician>=-