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

Jonathan W. Hendry (uhendjx@racer)
4 Aug 1996 17:24:56 GMT

Stephen W. Russell ( wrote:
: On 1 Aug 1996, Jonathan W. Hendry wrote:
: > Stephen W. Russell ( wrote:
: >
: > : When I write, I try for tribal names--real ones--and then I whip back and
: > : forth between Native American and Indian depending upon nothing more
: > : esoteric than how many syllables sound good in the sentence. That'll
: > : work in just about everything I have ever read.
: >
: > It gets exasperating when someone insists on tribal names. There are
: > legitimate reasons for generalizing. When referring to people who
: > live on Manhattan Island, one calls them New Yorkers. One need not
: > list every ethnic group which is represented by an individual on
: > Manhattan Island. Likewise, one needs a shorthand to refer to the
: > people who lived here before Europeans arrived, and their descendants.
: > Just like I used the word 'Europeans' above, rather than listing every
: > European ethnic group. The fact is that things which are similar tend
: > to be grouped together for discussion (hence the entire taxonomic
: > system). Native Americans, of all tribes, have things in common,
: > if only that they are descended from the people who were in North
: > America first. This alone is justification for not using tribal names
: > at times.
: >
: > On the other hand, sometimes tribal names should be expected. It
: > depends entirely on the context.

: Well, gee whiz, I'm sorry you are exasperated. If I was going to suggest
: that this whole deal is a proxy for something else, I just thought that
: pointing out how I have managed to publish in journals edited both by
: Indians and by non-Indians without any major hassles might be useful to
: those who were really asking a question...

Um, calm down, I wasn't flaming you, just making an observation.

: As for people clinging to tribal identity, you overlook that there was no
: such thing as either "Indian" or "Native American" until we looked around
: and saw so few of us left.

I didn't say anything about clinging to tribal identity. There's
nothing wrong with that, whatsoever. It has it's place. Which
generally in writing.

My problem is insisting on an artificial and, IMHO, needless level
of detail in language. For one thing, it makes for poor writing and
unrealistic demands on writers. Not many people will bother writing
anything if they have to deal with a billion complaints from people
of every ethnic group on the planet, because they failed to
specifically mention them by name.

Your solution sounds perfectly reasonable, and my comments weren't
directed at you. Sorry if you had this impression.

More comments shot in the air:

On the other hand, it seems as though this demand for
detail is only applied to Native American tribes, while europeans
can be referred to as europeans, or even 'euros' with impunity.

Ireland and Scotland suffer(ed) under British rule. Their cultures are
quite different than the British culture. The use of Gaelic was even
outlawed for a long time. Yet they aren't allowed the same respect
demanded for Native American tribes. Presumably because they are
white 'oppressors' or some such. (Ignoring the fact that most of the
people in Ireland and Scotland were powerless and dirt poor. Does
the phrase 'Potato Famine' ring a bell?).

: All honor to Tecumseh!

All honor to Clan Gunn!

Ugh. I'm done with this discussion. I'm sounding a little
too much like I'm some kind of bigot, which I'm not at all.
Or worse, some kind of white supremecist or apologist. Which,
again, I'm not.

FWIW, I do think the indigenous people of the Americas have gotten
and incredibly raw deal, and I do get pissed when I hear
about the various Federal and regional governments still
jerking them around (trying to squash reservation casinos, and worse.)
And yes, I think the US govmt.'s behavior has ranged from
at best neglectful to downright evil at worst. (But hey, it's okay, since
we're a good Christian nation. Not.)

On the other hand, I don't think name-calling and finger pointing
do a damned thing to help the situation ( for any situation,
for any ethnic group).

Jonathan W. Hendry Views expressed herein do
Steel Driving Software, Inc. not represent those of Steel Driving Software, Inc. or Lexis-Nexis