Monday, August 24, 2009

Why "Native American" is a Stupid Term

While attending the dedication of the "Indian Land Dancing" mural at Foster and Lake Shore Drive on August 22, I was reminded of a ridiculous argument. That ongoing argument is over the correct way to refer to indigenous peoples of North and South America, the folks who were here thousands of years before any European. The argument is full of hypocrisy, ignorance and politically correct silliness. It wasn't until the 1960's that the term "Native American" began to be used in earnest. Some folks say "we're not American Indians, we're Native Americans" and rationalize it by saying that "Columbus thought he landed in India and we're not Indians." Here's a newsflash: The Americas, both North and South, are named in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian who helped Columbus prepare his ships for his second and third voyages to the "New World." To dismiss the term "Indian" because it was used mistakenly by Columbus, yet happily use "American" as part of the name, is simply ridiculous. Furthermore, the word "native" was never spoken in the New World prior to the arrival of Europeans, since "native" is a European word. Its origin is Middle English "natif," from Middle French, from Latin "nativus," from "natus," past participle of "nasci" ("to be born"). So to use the term "Native American" instead of "Indian" or "American Indian" because Columbus mistakenly thought he'd landed in India, but to use the European word "native" and a derivative of an Italian explorer's name in combination instead is not only stupid, it shows a complete lack of imagination. How about using an actual word or phrase of one of the indigenous languages? Surely there's an Apache or Navajo term? Related: American Indian Tribal List: Native American Tribes and Languages Index of Native American Language Resources on the Internet Native American Languages Cool Hats & Shirts for Cool Conservatives Leave a Comment... Chicago News Bench RSS Feed We're on Twitter...