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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What Word/ Term Should I Use?

I can't imagine a single person who knows their nation (tribe) wanting to be called anything except that. All "Europeans" much prefer "Irish" or "German" or whatever - to "European." The more specific, the better. Having said that, there are times when one needs to talk about "everyone" in some way (even Europeans). 

All kinds of terms have been used in the law, legally, historically, etc. No term is great - "native," "American," AND "Indian." ALL HAVE PROBLEMS. Generationally, older folks will give you one answer (often "just call me Indian, that's what we've always been called"). Google will give you the same results whether you put in "Native American" or "American Indian." There is no agreed-upon perfect term to describe the entire group of indigenous people of the western hemisphere before it was named in 1492… yet. In fact, this group was known by individual nation/ tribe names well into the 20th century. Scholars will argue that it was the advent of laws and boarding schools that created the "need" to name everyone one term. 

The northeast tends to use Native American and the west tends to use American Indian. In formal writing, I always footnote the controversy and acknowledge which term I'm choosing to use. I happen to like First Nations People which is THE term used in Canada. I can live with all the terms, as none are good, some are worse than others, depending on how much you know about them. The R*dsk*n, for example, is particularly offensive. Currently, I tend to use "indigenous" - and while it represents ALL indigenous world wide, it also affirms our solidarity. In addition, it is the current political term being used, as in "Indigenous People's Day."