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

Mary Beth Williams (
1 Aug 1996 20:11:54 GMT

In <>
>In article <4tnd0f$>,
> Beth Williams) wrote:
>>I think that you do a disservice to both the Irish and Native
>>by attempting to lump their experiences together. This thread,
>>however, is about an appropriate non-offensive term for the
>>people of the Western Hemisphere.
>I feel that an appropriate name for the pre-contact populations of the
>Americas (North/Central/South) is First Nations, Obviously the term
>[N,n]ative American is simply too ambiguous and politically charged to
>be of real use.

This is the term the indigenous people of Canada have chosen to use to
describe themselves, but, as a Native American living beyond Canadian
borders, I do not feel so compelled, and thus question your belief that
you have any valid claim to so name me or my kin.


>>It takes only one generation for a non-native to produce a
>>native -- but first one needs to find a native mate.
>What special qualities do First Nations People posses that enables
them to
>transform the child of a mixed marriage into a native instantly. Does
>this child have equal claims to non-native heredity? Does this mean
>the child is at once both Native and non-Native? I beleive that you
>of culture and heredity are a little na€ve and oversimplified.

How many breeds have you approached with this question? Perhaps it is
you who is naive. I, like every mixed-blood Indian I know, identifies
as Indian, not white or even *mixed blood*. That doesn't negate my
white ancestory, but states socially, culturally and politically where
I place myself. For some reason in the US we don't see it as an issue
when people of African-American/white parentage view themselves as

:::snipping highly romanticised story about a self-sacrificing white
living among the Inuit::::

>>As long as there are legitimate indigenous (native) peoples in a
>>region, invaders/immigrants will never ascend to that position -- it
>>only can occur when the original group becomes *extinct*... Hence,
>>the motivation behind the *policy of extermination* which has
>>dominated >white relations with American Indians since 1639.

>Sort of like the Inuit did to the original inhabitants of the North
>the Thule, or the Mohawk did to the Huron of Southern Ontario. Don't
>get high and mighty on us, I will grant you that in the past
>systematic destruction did occur, and that today relations aren't very
>good. But punishing us today for the acts of our forebearers is
>simply counterproductive and wrong. A policy based on guilt is a
>rotten one and doomed to failure.

*Acts of (y)our forebearer*? What you're saying then is that all
*colonial* activities are in the past, and that Native
Americans/Indians/First Nations do not view the current situation as
one of *occupation*? It may make you feel bad, and you may not like
the guilt, but you, and all non-Indians, continue to be an occupying
force just like your forebearers. Only when non-Indians understand
this, and develop *policies* based upon this *understanding*, will
relations between the two succeed.

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst

>>MB Williams (Penobscot/Kennebec/Maliseet)
>>Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst
>In conclusion I think you ought to rethink your criteria for what
>constitutes "native" and what does not, reducing it down to 'womb'
>more complex issues, such as popular prception and enculturation.
>Secondly your comment about progeny of mixed marriages displays a
>fundamental flaw in you conception of 'culture' which needs
>rethinking. And finally your good/bad, us/them, native/non-native
>dichotomy ignores similar practices by native populations in the
>prior to contact essentialising the current condition. Also, you
>attempt to demystify your own history focus less on punishing people,
>insted work on helping others and yourself learn from history in order
>prevent it reccurance. We should build on honesty, mutual
>and forgiveness.
>Toby Cockcroft (Celt/Canadian)
> M.A. Anthropology, University of Western Ontario