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View Diary: *New Day* Aren't 80 years of the 'Redskin' slur enough? (266 comments)

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  •  I think we need to reference the slur directly (25+ / 0-)
    The word Redskin derived from the practice of skinning Indians for easy transport when collecting bounty. The skin was removed from the top of the back and ran all the way down the legs. These skins were used for products such as reins, boots, belts, pouches, etc. Andrew Jackson, who was one of the worst enemies of the Native people, and by far the most brutal president towards Native people, collected the noses of every Indian he killed and encouraged the practice of skinning. Native people are not red. Mostly they range from tan to brown. Redskin comes from bloody skin.

    Indian Mascots & Death Threats to a 15 yr. old (2x Updated)
    by Winter Rabbit

    That's what redskins means.

    (I miss Winter Rabbit)

    •  Yes, and for those who don't know . . . (23+ / 0-)

      the modern usage of "squaw," it comes from a similar source:  It's a euphemism for Indian woman's genitalia, but crudely, in the sense of a four-letter word beginning with "c."  And our genitals were hacked out by white soldiers and used as "medicine" bags (talk about sacrilege), among other things.

      So let's not hear anything on this site, ever again, about how the word "redskin" is not racist, nor a tool of genocide, because it's both.

      Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

      by Aji on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:36:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow. I Will Have To Google That (6+ / 0-)

        not saying you are wrong, but my gosh if that is true, and my history of the world is limited, I will go puke a little in my mouth.

        I had no idea that was the initial meaning of "squaw." I know we did terrible things. I had no idea really we did something like this. Makes me sick to my stomach at levels I can't put to words.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:55:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I had no idea. (13+ / 0-)

        How utterly revolting.

        Oh, I used to be disgusted
        Now I try to be amused
        ~~ Elvis Costello

        by smileycreek on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:36:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is widely reported, but is wrong. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, pico

        I'm not going to argue that squaw isn't pejorative in the modern sense.  Its connotation is demeaning and racialized; it's in the same category of words as Jewess.

        But it isn't a reference to sexual organs, much less to that kind of abuse.  The idea that it derives from a word referring to genitals only dates back to the 1970s, to the Glencoe Press book Literature of the American Indian which claimed the word had its origins in an Iroquois word for female genitals, otsiskwa.  But that's not true.  Ives Goddard, senior linguist for the Smithsonian, traces the word to the Massachusett word squa and then back to Proto-Algonquin; in all cases, it meant "young woman".  See this pdf reprinting a letter in which he discusses said origins.

        The idea that squaw is a sexual term became widely known following the 1992 appearance of Suzan Harjo on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where Harjo claimed it was "an Algonquin Indian word meaning vagina."  Not only have linguists like Goddard rejected this etymology, so have other tribal historians.  Harjo has done excellent work as an activist, but there's no evidence to support her proposed etymology, although, thanks largely to Oprah, it has been widely repeated.

        And as for the claim of genital mutilation and removal by white soldiers, I'm going to need a reference for that.  If it occurred at all, it was most certainly not a widespread practice.

        None of that redeems the word.  It's still tainted and pejorative.  But history (and linguistics) is full of plenty of horrible stories, terrible actions, and novel ways to belittle each other.  There's no need to embellish it further with modern inaccuracies.

        "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." -Douglas Adams

        by Serpents Choice on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:43:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, it is not wrong, and you missed . . . (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, paradise50, navajo, LinSea

          my point entirely.  Did you not read where I said "modern usage?"

          I know the derivation of the original term very well, since it comes from my and other Algonquin languages.  I've written about it at some length.  But the modern white man's usage of the word SPECIFICALLY refers to a Native woman's genitals in the crudest terminology possible.  AND I HAVE BEEN CALLED THAT.  Now, do you want to argue that a white man calling a Black man "n-----" is okay because it's a mispronunciation of a European-language word for "black?"

          I'm going to say this once, and I'm done:  I KNOW MY LANGUAGE, AND MY HISTORY.  So do the rest of us NDNs here.  So I'll kindly thank you to stop incorrectly whitesplaining to me this bullshit that white racists have used eternally to justify about the treatment of our peoples.

          It's downthread, too, and I am so goddamn sick of it.

          Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

          by Aji on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:50:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Um. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wader, pico, Remove Kebab

            First.  Just because I don't post with a username that is clearly identifiable with a Native American tradition does not mean I am not associated with American indigenous peoples.  But thanks for assuming.

            Nigger has been a pejorative since at least the mid-19th century.  Probably longer.  If it had any life at all in a neutral context, it was a short one.

            Squaw wasn't generally even pejorative until the early 20th century; uses throughout even the late 1800s are almost universally neutral.  But it still wasn't used as a sexual reference until very recently.  Really, not until Harjo's appearance on Oprah.  It's not a good word in the modern sense.  Like I said, I'd no more use it that I would use Jewess, which has exactly the same sort of problems.  Maybe we just disagree on what constitutes the "modern" use of a word?

            But even with bad words, it's important to stand up for the idea that they have origins and meanings that aren't so fungible that one woman on daytime TV can change their history and meaning.  I've been called all kinds of terrible things.  Because some people are terrible people.  That doesn't make the real history of words (and events) any less important.

            "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." -Douglas Adams

            by Serpents Choice on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:01:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I realize it's an understandably upsetting subject (0+ / 0-)

            But, you both seem generally in violent agreement.

            Maybe best to consider where you have common ground on the points, here.

            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

            by wader on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:07:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And FTR: (6+ / 0-)

          The word IS Algonquin, and it originally meant "woman."

          Ikwe/kwe; iskwe/skwe; iskwa/skwa.

          It never meant anything to do with genitals until white bigots got hold of it.  But now, that's the modern usage, just like "n-----,"and no one is entitled to use that term to apply to me or any Indian woman.

          And read some real NDN history of the U.S. Calvary and Army's actions, not whitewashed U.S. school crap, to see what was done to us.  There's plenty in the record, and in our memories.

          Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

          by Aji on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:54:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As for the atrocity you mentioned (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I apologize, and have found my own documentation.  That sort of female genital mutilation did occur -- at Sand Creek under the hands of Chivington's men.  Although that's a detail I didn't recall about that massacre, it doesn't actually surprise me much (I knew there was male genital mutilation following the massacre).  Chivington's attack at Sand Creek stands out from a wide background of terrible behavior by the US Cavalry on account of its sheer and unremitting barbarism, from its beginning (as an attack against nonhostile civilians under a flag of truce) to its end (with widespread mutilation of the victims).  There's substantial evidence that Chivington even had one of his own men murdered for giving testimony against him.

            To the credit of the government, Chivington's actions were specifically condemned by Congress, the US Army, and the United Methodist Church, and are widely credited with beginning the softening of public views regarding Native Americans (despite first escalating into the 1865 plains campaign).  Both Congress and the Army had expressed a desire for real and severe punishment for his atrocities, but he was an unintentional beneficiary of the post-Civil War general amnesty, and so was sadly able to live a long and stridently unrepentant life.

            I can't immediately find record of anyone else similarly barbaric.  I don't have any illusion about the "nobility" of the 19th century US Cavalry, but thankfully very few of their (admittedly many) abuses rose to within sight of Chivington's level of depravity.

            "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." -Douglas Adams

            by Serpents Choice on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:44:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  this parallels Nazi treatment of Jewish "skin" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paradise50, Cassandra Waites

        I have never heard about this specific detail. I am glad you opened my eyes. I wished I had some sources for that.

    •  Not a widely accepted etymology (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Look, I hate to be the person who comes in here and defends terrible language.  Because I expect I'm going to get jumped on (again) for doing it here, let me make clear up-front: redskin is not okay.

      It is very literally the Native American equivalent of nigger, and it's been that way for a very long time.  Both epithets owe their origins to descriptions of skin color.  "Red" as a description of the skin color of Native Americans, dates back to 1587 and was unassociated with any skinning or bounty.  The OED identified the specific compound redskin as a term for Native Americans as early as 1699.  There's some evidence that it might have been used neutrally for a little while, but it's been used as a racial pejorative since at least the mid-1700s (meaning it's been offensive for longer than nigger, actually).

      But while use of the word is indefensible, it's origins still don't lie with Andrew Jackson.  Nor, as some online sources claim, with a 1755 bounty on the Penobscot tribe (which didn't use the word).  Terrible things were undeniably done to Native Americans.  And redskin is a terrible word.  But the latter is not due to the former.

      "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." -Douglas Adams

      by Serpents Choice on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:19:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  oh my, I have never read this in such (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      detail and directness. Wow. ...
      I have to thank you for that.

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