Natives Are Getting Restless
by Mike Spinney
term offends me. It offends me because, like most constructs
of pantywaist white boy political correctness, the term
is inaccurate in its common usage and more offensive than
the word the term was coined to replace.
are quick to laugh when I call myself a Native American.
It’s a nervous laugh; that “I’m not
sure if you’re serious, so I’ll hedge my bets”
kind of laugh.
I’m not the Iron Eyes Cody stereotype most people
conjure when they consider the term Native American. Then
again, neither was Iron Eyes Cody – a second-generation
American of Italian extraction named Espera DeCorti.
I’m as white as they come. But I’m 100 percent
Native American, born and raised right here in America.
the early part of the last century, however, some well-meaning
milksop decided that the term “Indian” was
demeaning to those whose ancestry reached back to the
indigenous peoples of North America. Indian, after all,
was an erroneous moniker, universally affixed to the resident
population when it was thought that the New World was
a part of the Asian subcontinent.
guys came up with the term, so white guys should correct
the term. I’m guessing that was the idea behind
the new Native American label. Problem is, the term Native
American is just as much a silly invention of the white
man as the term Indian. The word America, after
all, is a derivative of Amerigo Vespucci, the
name of the Italian navigator credited (erroneously) by
a German cartographer with the discovery of the New World.
not call the so-called Native Americans what they’d
been calling themselves for hundreds – if not thousands
– of years before Columbus or Vespucci or Erickson
ever set eyes on these lands?
those white guys arrived, there were many people inhabiting
what we now call North and South America. Primitive by
European standards, these populations nonetheless had
developed distinct and vibrant cultures and traditions.
They had formed societies and nations, and they had their
own languages. And with those languages they called themselves
Cree and Chippewa and Abenaki and Iroquois; they called
themselves Navajo and Pima and Dakota and Mandan; they
called themselves Cheyenne and Creek and Yakima and Arapaho;
they called themselves Nootka and Hopi and Huron and Passamaquoddy;
they called themselves Micmac and Algonquin and Shawnee
called themselves those and many other names because those
were the names that identified them as people and that
described their separate cultures.
don’t think you are doing anyone any favors, or
paying anyone any particular respect by tossing around
self-important words like Native American. Doing so only
perpetuates the insidious notion that those of us with
European ancestry are somehow better than the savages.
isn’t it time we all just thought of ourselves as
Spinney is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine)