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

Toby Cockcroft (
Sat, 10 Aug 1996 17:16:39 -0400

I don't think that there will ever be a solution to this problem of naming
so long as Indians (please don't flame me for this one) are in a
culturally and politically empoverished position vis-a-vis the dominant
anglo culture.

Furthermore, I don't see this as an isolated instance of naming. Blacks,
women and the disabled (probably all politically incorrect terms) have all
fought for control and escape from anglo male culture. Part of the fight
for self determination and empowerment is the act of renaming, people do
it to symbolically seperate themselves from others (in the sixties for
example children took on new names to symbolically divide themselves from
their parents and their parents values), nations do it (new nations often
declare their independence from colonial countries by renaming themselves:
eg. Burma, and many African nations). Why shouldn't this process be
reflected within society in general. Sub-cultures redefining themselves
vis-a-vis the dominant culture by renaming themselves and thus gaining,
either symbolically or actually, power and a sense of self determination.

People whom for so long have been at the mercy and control of a dominant
culture have begun to assert themselves and gain control of their lives
through the act of self naming. However, the dominant culture always acts
to maintain control and the status quo. The hegemony of the dominant
culture appropriates the new terms diminishing their symbolic power. By
appropriating these new names the dominant culture removes the symbolic
support for this new sense of self determination and the cycle repeates
itself. Once the name has been appropriated and the power base destroyed
the act of renaming occurs once again in the struggle for self
determination and so long as inequality exists there will never be and
acceptible name. New names become insults as the process of
appropriatiopn continues.

Is it futile then to attempt to look for a new name? No. The attemt to
look for a new name and the life of this thread it a testament that all is
not well. That inequality still exists. Untill this thread (globally)
dies and there is no longer the need to rename one's self the struggle for
equality must continue.

Thanks for listening.

You may begin to flame me if you wish.

Toby Cockcroft MA Anthropology University of Western Ontario