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

Fri, 02 Aug 1996 02:13:31 GMT

"M. Council" <> wrote:

>On Tue, 30 Jul 1996, Stephen Barnard wrote:
>[snipped for brevity]
[and snipped again]
>> 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.

One problem is that the word that various ethnic groups want used
frequently gets changed. Words that were polite useage when I was a
child are now considered offensive although no offense is intended.
The best example I can thing of is the word "colored" which was rarely
used in anything but a polite way and was generally the choice of
people with kind intentions.

A second is that the current favored term that we are discussing
"Native American" has been chosen with the intention of denying the
term "native American" to the rest of the population of the US for
political reasons. I'm sorry, but they can't have it.

On the other hand I personally find the term "Euro-American"
offensive. I also find it offensive to be lumped into an ethnic group
that I don't belong to. (No, you didn't use the term. If this sounds
like a flame against you, it isn't intended.) So I understand both
sides of this problem.

>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.

This is an excellent point. You are quite right.

>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?

Having a word for a larger inclusive group living on a continent isn't
exclusive to the Americas. All Europeans can be described with the
word "Europeans" for example, even though we know that some of them
are Spanish and some are French and some are Hungarian. Before 1500
each of those cultures was very different from each of the others.
What word do we use for the peoples living in the Americas before the
first Spanish and Portuguese voyages?

Stella Nemeth