Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Native Americans" a Much Worse Term than "Redskins"

The white hypocrites who complain about the term "redskins"  use the term "native American" which when used in the way they are using it isn't much better than the other n-word.   The word "redskins" is a physically descriptive term that doesn't have inherently negative characteristics.   The word is one of the English translations of the Ottawa term "Oklahoma".   If we consider the characteristics of the people the term "redskins" was first applied to, it's a positive term.

The word "native" has two different uses.  In general use the  term "native " followed by a geographic region is used to indicate people who live in the area in which they are born.  For example, a native New Yorker is someone who was born in New York and still lives there. In this context what counts is where the individual was born, not when his or her ancestors arrived from somewhere else. Those of us who were born in the United States are all native Americans even if we didn't have  ancestors who called themselves Cherokee, Cheyenne or Lakota. Except for the eleven months I spent in Vietnam I've lived all my life in the United States so I would be a native American even if I hadn't had an ancestor who moved to the frontier shortly after the American Revolution and married a woman who was probably Shawnee or Kickapoo.   Residents of Mexico and the other countries on the land mass called "America" are also natives of America.      

The context in which whites have used the term "native" when referring to non-whites is highly negative.  In movies made during the period European nations had colonies in Asia and Africa, when whites used the word "native" to refer to non-whites the implication was that the "natives" were inferior and possibly primitive, uncivilized or even "savages".   The best example of this practice is the old jungle movie cliche "the natives are restless tonight" which was used when the natives were beating on drums and making other sounds.  The white characters never considered the possibility that the "natives"  just wanted to listen to drum music.  If the natives were making noises they must have  been  "restless " about something.     "Native" is used as a generic term for local residents whose identity isn't considered important.

Whites have often used the word "savage" to describe non-whites who use violence even though whites at times have used the same type of violence.  The most recent example of white savagery is the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

Those who criticize the term "redskin" ignore the characteristics of the people it referred to when it was used  centuries ago.   The original "redskins" lived on their own lands and provided for their own needs. They often lived alongside whites and sold land to them. They had their own medical knowledge, but much of it was lost because whites were too stupid to recognize its value.  They had their own culture including music and the visual arts  although they lacked an inexpensive permanent medium to record their literature.   The Hopi even had an extended creation account which included mass extinction events involving fire and cold as well as a flood like Noah's.  In recent years scholars who study earth's history have supported theories about mass extinctions caused by cold and fire.

The redskins sometimes lived at peace with each other and the white skins and at other times fought them.  The white nations sometimes lived at peace with each other and sometimes fought each other.   The white skins sometimes paid redskins to kill other white skins or paid for the scalps of redskins.     Redskins were warriors who fought to protect their way of life.   Captain French to Major Reno: "Too many blasted redskins with new Winchesters" defeated Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  

The redskins were not defeated.  They were inundated  by a flood  of Europeans.  

Referring to the original inhabitants as "redskins" is consistent with calling Europeans "whites". There is nothing inherently wrong with the color red.  It is the color used in both the British and American flags.  The British army during and after the colonial period wore red.   Roman Catholic Cardinals wear red.  In the Bible the words  of Jesus Christ are sometimes printed in red.    Various sports teams include the color red in their names: such as  Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Tech University Red Raiders.

The redskins term  doesn't have any inherently negative characteristics.  Any negatives are based on the stereotyped view of the people it refers to.  

"Redskins" is a much stronger name than "native American".  Try sounding tough while saying "I'm a native American"  Now try it saying "I'm a redskin".  Redskins resisted being imprisoned on reservations.  Native Americans live on them.

I don't know if my limited North American ancestry is enough for anyone to claim me, but I would rather be called a "redskin" than a "native American"[except in the context in which everyone born in the U.S. is a native American.]

Many Republicans are trying to have President Ronald Reagan's face placed on the $50 bill to replace President Ulysses S. Grant.  A better choice would be to have Reagan replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.   Jackson's mistreatment of the Cherokee should disqualify him from having his face on money.

No comments: