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View Poll Results: Is the term Squaw derogatory?
Yes, derogatory. 48 96.00%
No, not derogatory. 1 2.00%
Unknown or Un-sure 1 2.00%
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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life > Native Issues Real Meaning of Squaw? Real Meaning of Squaw?

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Old 08-17-2005, 06:15 AM   #21
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Sounds like he was ignorant and trying to be cute and show "his knowledge" of native americans Fncy. Some people just honestly don't know any better. They grew up hearing squaw used as a word for native women not necessarily knowing it was most of the time used in a derogatory manner. I have a friend that recently called me that and he seriously did'nt know. My hubby just calmly told him.. well we don't use that word. He told him it was usually said in a negative context and it's not appreciated by indian women. He was so embarrassed and apologetic and I knew he did'nt mean it to hurt my feelings. But he knows now eh? LOL!

Man I can only imagine how I would feel though if a teacher asked me that in front of the room. I was very hot headed as a teen, I probably would have gone off and had my mom coming to the school to go off as well!
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Old 08-17-2005, 09:08 PM   #22
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meaning os squaw

well, i'm lum and to us squaw means ****.
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Old 08-18-2005, 03:11 AM   #23
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My Grandma and Aunts/Uncles taught me at a very young age that the word "Squaw" was about the same as the word "b*t*h". The word "b**ch" in english is another word for a female dog.

I have heard the term Squaw dance used and the term Buck dance. These are eastern hills/mountain terms for a jig type of a dance or a reel perhaps. Just because these terms are used, and these are quite old terms, doesn't make it OK today. My Grandma used the term queer to meen anything odd, the websters usage. I had to explain to her before she passed what the word queer refers to today. She explained Oh My. The term "Squaw" was derogatory even a 100 years ago. Although it was common for a white guy to take an NDN wife the wife was not normally fully accepted in all communities. Areas that had high concentrations of NDNs the term wasn't usually used. I come from an area that used to be of high concentration of mix bloods. Now we have a lot of transplants. You don't hear this term used around there much unless someone wants to prove a point or get a reaction.
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:07 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazywolf
Boozhoo niji,

The word is offensive depending on where you come from, but 90% is probably offensive. The "s" word means woman in Cree, but I believe what everyone else has posted as far as different tribes.

For the most part though, when you hear the word being used it is from white lips and is said with either sarcasim or hatred. I never hear a white person who is respectful speak of that word when I have a lady at my side. But I have heard it when ignorance and bigotry were factors. I usually come off pretty harsh when I hear it directed at any girlfriends I may be dating at the time, whether they are present or not.

So yeah, it is a Cree word but in my opinion if you are not Cree, then you shouldnt speak it.

Derek

I am Cree but do not speak the language. The correct pronounciation for woman in the cree language sounds like this iskwew (sss-kwew) A different sound than the word squaw. i do not pretend to know the origin of this word but agree with the person a few replies up that regardless of the origin the word has become offensive by incorrect use of the word. The only time i have personally been referenced by this word is by the 'farm boys' at school. Usually in a sentence like this: 'Stupid wagon-burners, stupid squaws'. We would usually laugh and then send the biggest 'brave' over to tune them up. lol we weren't much on racial relations back then.
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Old 08-20-2005, 11:43 PM   #25
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Boozhoo niji,

OK I stand corrected. The book where I got my definition from is an old Ojibwe book, which also has some Cree translations. The book was invariably written by a white missionary. Sometimes the book is spot on, and sometimes its messed up. OK well sorry if I offended anyone.

Derek
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Old 08-21-2005, 04:20 AM   #26
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazywolf
Boozhoo niji,

OK I stand corrected. The book where I got my definition from is an old Ojibwe book, which also has some Cree translations. The book was invariably written by a white missionary. Sometimes the book is spot on, and sometimes its messed up. OK well sorry if I offended anyone.

Derek

undefinedundefinedundefinednone taken.
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Old 08-31-2005, 01:50 AM   #27
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Now I Truly Know How "Sitting Bull" Felt.....

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Old 08-31-2005, 03:26 AM   #28
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I find it to be very offensive in nature. Its one of the few words that I have never heard of my son using, so it must really be bad:) I was taught that it was a discusting derogitory that was like a culmination of all of the nasties that I have seen here. It should never be tolerated toward a native woman. The cure for the use is a kick square in the jimmy!!!!
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:01 PM   #29
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Well the school board for S-Lake Elementary must have realized the reality of the situation & decided to rename the school.. Eagleview Elementary! It is my understanding this was agreed accross the board. This is one small step for a Minnesota tribes, next we work on changing names of countys, citys, roads, etc! If its offensive, please change it. We don't use the word B**ch or Qu**r anymore because of the deragatory affilate, so lets not use sq**w!

Many thanks to the Charwood Family from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe located in northern Minnesota! I believe you all did what you felt was right & change is good!
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:00 AM   #30
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Mish.. after reading your post ,the first thing that popped in my head was.... dang.. how cool would it be to live on Qu**r B*tch Ave? LOL... I got a few friends who would dig it!



sorry , in a wierd mood today, my humor is leading in a whole new direction right now...
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Old 09-10-2005, 05:00 AM   #31
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Ok I had forgotten I had asked over on a language board about the Mohawk word and it seems I was right.. that the word in question is not a female body part... anyhow here is the reply I got..

It is spelled... Otsihskwa... and it does not mean vagina... vagina in mohawk is *********... Otsihskwa means mush,.. like oatmeal... or the kind you get at kanonhseshne.....

Some people say otsihskwa means vagina, that is slang... people have only been sayin that for a short time... traditional mohawk speakers will say it means mush, the christians, boozers, and dirty minded mohawk speakers will say it means vagina.
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Old 08-25-2006, 05:59 PM   #32
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Well,
I don't know the real meaning, but I know that this word has been taken out of several German texts.
This word causes bad feelings in me, I don't like it.
My dictionary tells me:
squaw-OFFENSIVE!......Indianerfrau (Indian woman)

so............
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Old 08-25-2006, 06:07 PM   #33
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Its simple to know this is derogatory. Same way the words "papoose" and "pickinniny" are offesive.

How?

What do they call a white female? A Lady or a Woman, right? What do they call a white baby? A baby, a newborn whathave you.

It's racism to have specific words like this set aside to indicate a person's decent.

Call it what it is-all Females are Women or Ladies. Regardless of color... All babies are babies, newborns, etc...

Not rocket science....
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:44 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsuj510
Its simple to know this is derogatory. Same way the words "papoose" and "pickinniny" are offesive.

How?

What do they call a white female? A Lady or a Woman, right? What do they call a white baby? A baby, a newborn whathave you.

It's racism to have specific words like this set aside to indicate a person's decent.

Call it what it is-all Females are Women or Ladies. Regardless of color... All babies are babies, newborns, etc...

Not rocket science....
But when someone calls a baby a papoose, they are calling it a baby but it really means baby carrier (cradleboard).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papoose

See and that's just it... the words that whites want to use for us are actual native words, just not necessarily the words our people use for them.
If they were wanting to use english they'd say woman or baby.
If they wanted to say woman or baby in Algonquin, then they'd say squaw or papoose.
They were words picked up by the whites because they had a LOT of contact with the algonquins once upon a time... so they stuck around. However, squaw BECAME derogatory because of the connontations behind it being said which is more offensive to me than being called the word because it implies to me that if you are being called a squaw, the real meaning is that there is something wrong with being an ndn woman. THAT is what I take offense to.
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Old 08-31-2006, 06:38 PM   #35
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I believe the word "sq**w" was a non-Indian's, or whiteman's, misinterpretation of the Cree/Ojiway word: "esskwill or esskwess, or equay".

Being that it was pronounced wrong and usually had derogatory meaning or insinuations, or slanderized Indian women, it is inappropriate.

Papoose, too. Is that word actually a word in any dialect? In Cree there is a word that is close, but not really:
"wah'-pen-noose" which is not really a cradleboard but a baby carrier or something that a baby is wrapped in.
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:35 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ntownn8ive
I believe the word "sq**w" was a non-Indian's, or whiteman's, misinterpretation of the Cree/Ojiway word: "esskwill or esskwess, or equay".

Being that it was pronounced wrong and usually had derogatory meaning or insinuations, or slanderized Indian women, it is inappropriate.

Papoose, too. Is that word actually a word in any dialect? In Cree there is a word that is close, but not really:
"wah'-pen-noose" which is not really a cradleboard but a baby carrier or something that a baby is wrapped in.
Papoose is a Narragansett word (papoos) meaning child.

Massachusetts - squa or eshqua
Narragansett - squ[^a]ws

Both of these languages use the word to indicate female-ness (human or otherwise).

Real words in real Algonkin dialects.

The issue for the here and now, from my point of view, is not where the words came from but how they are used. When I refer to white people as chimokemon.... well that is a proper word in my language for a white person - "Long Knives". But I mean something far different when I apply that as a label.

It's labeling that is the problem. Labeling allows people to look at other people as things and not as people. A woman is a person... a squaw has come to mean less than a person - a thing. Chimokemon are very good at reducing the living and animate to objects - they do it with other people, with the wild animals, with the plants and the earth herself.

My vote in this poll cannot be cast because my answer "it depends on the context" is not available.
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Old 09-05-2006, 10:08 AM   #37
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Here's how I feel about it. If natives feel that it's offensive, why should there be a discussion on it??? I am sick of having to make points and justify myself as a native simply b/c someone else wants to question something that MOST natives I know, are offended at (the word squaw)........it's not a hard concept. Just like people want to know why we make such a deal about mascots being offensive and why do we make a point to oppose them....well if they're not that big of a deal......GET RID OF THEM......and we'll let it alone. K, that's all. *L*
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:55 PM   #38
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I totally agree with you CANDAE!!!
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Old 11-19-2008, 02:51 PM   #39
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I agree too.

There have been a lot of good points in this thread. In my language(Abenaki), which is an algonquin language, the word "squa" means female, as in refering to something as female. We have a different word for woman. Frequently, squa is used as a suffix.

Although the word is harmless if it is used as it was intended, it has taken on a new meaning over time. As it is stated in other posts, the words queer and fag were once perfectly innocent words used by everyone, but are no longer acceptable.

Languages evolve over time. People need to realize that and change when change is needed
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:01 PM   #40
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Ojibwe word for Woman is "IKWE"
Some jackess back in the day might of mispronounced it to say "SQWE" or 'SQWA"
Just like them idiots mispronounced Ojibwa to Chippewa.
It could be offensive. I don't knnow. I personally don't use that word because it does sound offensive just saying it.
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