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

Stephen Barnard (
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 14:44:36 -0800

M. Council wrote:
> 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

I appreciate you comments, which I'm sure are meant to be helpful.
Unfortunately, they aren't really that helpful.

Those people I'm referring to (let's call them Native Americans, which
is somewhat reluctantly OK with me if it's OK with everyone else) are
an identifiable group of people. It's not stereotyping to need a term
with which to identify them. We speak of Europeans, Asians, and
Africans, for example, without anyone getting offended (I hope).
Granted, there are plenty of opportunities for ambiguity with these
terms, too.

Also, call me lazy, but I'm not really willing to call a reservation
to clear my language before I write or say something.

There was an unfortunate, even tragic, historical mistake that caused
the European "discoverers" to misname what were at the time the only
truly native Americans. (Assuming you can accept the term
"American".) We're suffering the consequences of that 500-year-old
mistake to this day.

I think it's about time this were settled once and for all. I don't
want to offend anyone, and that's why I'd like a clear and unambiguous
term that everyone agrees on.

Steve Barnard