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A few questions

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  • A few questions

    Greetings, all

    Newbie here. Little about myself: I'll start by saying that I don't have Native American heritage. I'm a Black man whose parents are from Belize. Born/raised in The Bronx, NY.

    After I joined, the 1st thing I did was try finding a FAQ section because I didn't want my questions to come across as ridiculous. I found it, but it looked like it was centered around Pow Wows.

    I've always had questions regarding Native American cultures, but never really had an opportunity & with so much misinformation out there, I had no idea where to go for a reliable source. I figured a forum would be a start.

    First question I have- Is it universally accepted that the term "Indian" is derogatory? I assumed it is. Since Columbus screwed up his location, & called the people "indians", & it's now common knowledge that he created a misnomer, why, in your opinion, did the word stick? Hollywood?
    Would you say that "Native American" is universally accepted? I've seen a couple of Youtube videos where Native American speakers rejected the term. I suppose it's exactly like when *we* got called "colored", then "Negros", etc...

    What book(s) are a reliable source of general information about Native cultures?

    Thank you for any guidance.

  • #2
    Myself, I prefer to be called by my name, LOL. Or human, or the company chemist, or the silversmith...

    Indian, Native American, Native, First Nations, Indigenous American.... All of those terms are catch alls for people of many nations. Most of us have specific tribal identities. We are Sihasapa, Oglala, Dine, Anishinaabe, Apsáalooke or any one of several hundred other nations or bands. I don't know too many people, at least in the US, who get too torqued over Indian vs Native American.

    While there was racism and negative associations with Indian and other terms for Native peoples, the cultural baggage with those vs those used for African-Americans is different. Negro, Indian, Jew, gay, etc are boxes that the dominant culture uses to separate the us's and them's. By and large, we fought to retain autonomy and keep from being forcibly subsumed into the cultural mainstream. No one was much wanting to incorporate African-Americans into the non-Indain world. So the experience of the terms was different.

    In my experience the problem comes with the associations and pre-judgements that come with the term. If calling me Indian means you expect me to look and act like an extra from Dances With Wolves then we're gonna have a problem.
    Last edited by OLChemist; 12-30-2013, 08:12 PM. Reason: Subject verb agreement; not just a good idea.


    • #3
      Well To Be Honest It VARIES From Different Tribes, As Of My Tribe ( The Haliwa-Saponi ) Some Accept The Term And Some Reject It, It Comes And Goes. Not Speaking Four All Nations Though.


      • #4

        Thank you both for the replies.

        Ok, so it just depends who you ask. Another question. This one is regarding names. Name translations like "restless one" or "he who never walks"- is that common today or mostly a thing of the past?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Rickenbacker View Post

          What book(s) are a reliable source of general information about Native cultures?

          Thank you for any guidance.

          I agree with the good chemist about the term "Indian/ Native American" etc etc.

          As far as your quest for general information about Native cultures in the form of books, I think those Reader's Digest books and the beautifully illustrated Time Life coffee table books are just awful. I think [generally speaking] that University ethnologists have tried to be honest and don't romanticize Indians. I would read books and journal articles from them for general information.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Rickenbacker View Post
            Name translations like "restless one" or "he who never walks"- is that common today or mostly a thing of the past?
            Many, but not all, Native people have "Indian" names, i.e. names in their people's language. Usually these names are used only in ceremony or other special circumstances. In some cultures these names are never spoken in public. In others not in your presence. In some, your friends and relative will call you by nicknames and/or kinship terms, for to use your name is rude. These names are rarely on birth certificates, driver's licenses or diplomas. When translated into English they may sound like the stereotypical Indian names of Hollyweird, or they may refer to birth order and gender, clan or family, or not translate into English at all. Asking about people about their names is generally considered rude. If you need to know, you will eventually learn.

            Some families have surnames which are English translations of an ancestor's name or nickname. Some have transliterations of the name in their ancestor's Native language. Others have European surnames. It depends on the practices of various census takers, teachers, and the vagaries of love and lust.

            There have been times when it have been in vogue for parents to make a statement about their family's cultural identity in the naming of their children. You will find the occasional "Indian" name used as a everyday name. But this is rare.

            Personally, when I hear of someone going by a name like "Lovely Blue Spirit Eagle Soaring Over the Lonely Canyon," I'm dubious. I figure they either just found a genuine Cherokee Indian Princess great, great, great, great grandmother in the woodpile or they are a bad poet hawking a self-help book, LOL. Then I wonder how they get all that on the little line at the top of a form.


            • #7
              Funny thing about Indian, Ndn, Native ect ect names...

              I do a lot of research and have found that even in 1907 people wanted an "Indian Name"!
              That is perhaps the very first question I am asked by a non-native and if not the first it will come up during the conversation.
              Hundreds of websites are devoted to it for baby names, celebrities name there children "Cheyenne" and "Shawnee" or names that mean Fierce or Doe walking in the mist! And most of them are mishmash and meaningless they just sound Native and that is good enough!

              I have been doing research for several years on names for I am interested in when the transformation began. Plus tracing names for genealogy sake it is very useful if you know what the root of the name you are looking for.
              I will speak for my own tribe since that is where my research has taken me and typically will not work for other tribes because of different culture and language.

              Naming Ceremonies are very different from nation to nation and who you share your name with is also different. It is not very typical for a Native to want to share there name upon first meeting most likely they will give you their English name.
              It is also not very typical that a name actually means something spectacular and epic i.e. "Pumpkin Pile Kicker" or "Squirrel Flopper" do not evoke that type of spirit but are actual names found in archives and rolls from the mid 1800's they are the roots of modern surnames of actual families living today such as Pumpkin and Squirrel.
              My own family names came down thru individuals that had a name that only spoke of that one person. But due to pressures to assimilate and be able to sort who belonged to whom, the descendant of that person would use their name as a surname. Much like the European standard such as Miller's son or Son of Eric only in our case it was Pickup Little Hair which became Little Hair then Hair. Hawk to Kin of Hawk and then Hawkins by the third generation. But these were translations of our names and those that the Roll Takers would use in the later part of the 1800 and early 1900 to trace who belong to who.
              We still kept our ndn names and those were passed in our language from generation to generation, I know what my Grandma and Grandpa was called and what my dad's name is, but those are not written down nor are they shared with anyone outside of our family.
              I might say guarded, for you got everything else of value and now you are looking to steal even our names from us...
              ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
              Till I Die!


              • #8
                Welcome to the boards, Rickenbacker.
                "Don't trust anyone who isn't angry."
                - John Trudell

                "Don't trust anyone who isn't hungry."
                - Me


                • #9
                  in the southwest they say "IN-YIN" lol
                  "I on the trail of a possible good Indian lady and she is reported to like the old way's and she to believes in big family and being at home with kids all the time"... - MOTOOPI aka WOUNDED BEAR


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by milehighsalute View Post
                    in the southwest they say "IN-YIN" lol
                    Pop always said "it's like onion ....with an I " LOL
                    I believe blood quantums are the governments way to breed us out of existance !

                    They say blood is thicker than water ! Now maple syrup is thicker than blood , so are pancakes more important than family ?

                    There are "Elders" and there are "Olders". Being the second one doesn't make the first one true !

                    Somebody is out there somewhere, thinking of you and the impact you made in their life.
                    It's not me....I think you're an idiot !


                    There's a chance you might not like me ,

                    but there's a bigger

                    chance I won't care


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