There was a ruckus created on my Facebook page the day before yesterday all because a friend of mine used a typical southern colloquialism. Nothing harmful. Nothing a good deal of us southerners haven’t said many times in our lifetime.
The offending statement you’d like to know?
He said this “Poor Indian girl…”
Well, another friend of mine immediately jumped him on my Facebook page saying adamantly he should never use the words “poor” and “Indian” in the same sentence that we “Indians” don’t need his sympathy. Well, you see, the example that I gave to back my friend who made the statement was when many of us have said in life, “Awww poor baby!”
Who hasn’t said that? You’d be a lie if you say you haven’t.
Now this is where I personally take issue: the word Indian. This past Monday was Columbus Day. This is a day that should not be celebrated in any regard because this man basically came to the Americas in 1492 and began the slaughterhouse of what is called America on the indigenous people who were already living here. He brought diseases to these people who had no immunity to them and of course later on the fact that these people were forced by the Europeans to give up their land to them.
Ever heard of the trail of tears?
Anyway, Christopher Columbus was under the impression that this great mass of land he found was indeed India. India a land of riches that he was searching, thereby naming the inhabitants “Indians”. However, this is not where he landed. He landed in what is presently known as the great United States of America. A place that was already inhabited by a group of people that were later classified so brutally as savages and killed off by way of force or disease. A group of people who received citizenship to a place where they called home for hundreds of years prior to gaining this achievement in…
Wait for it…
1924. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 is what allowed for the Native Americans to be considered citizens of this fine country. There were many who married Caucasian people in order to attain this “honor”. Honor? Yeah, okay.
My family stems from the Lumbee tribe, a tribe that has roots associated with the Tuscarora Native Americans and of course, Scotch Irish people. This is a tribe that is the largest east of the Mississippi river yet isn’t Federally recognized. We are a group of people that are very rich in cultural history and in the shaping of America. We were NOT born in India therefore we are not Indians. Personally, I despise the terms Indian and American Indian. Either way, I have no connections to the country of India so I shouldn’t be referred to as such.
Some will argue that everyone who has been born in the United States is “Native American”. Right. So I guess African Americans were all born in Africa and inherited citizenship in America as soon as …when? It is a great injustice to my people that we have been allotted small portions of this nation and live in such horrific conditions. It is a shame that we have some of the highest alcohol abuse and drug abuse rates. It is a shame that we’ve been reduced to being caricatured time and time again as a ploy to gain money for the masses.
I am not saying any particular group of people has been done more unjustly than another, but folks should really recognize that the Native Americans (not INDIANS) were pushed off their own lands and forced to assimilate into European culture. These are people who were a peaceful people until forced to defend their women and children.
That said, we should all cease and desist the term Indian to describe my people. To me, being called “Indian” is the equivalent to African Americans being called “Negros” still because that’s how the Europeans labeled them. The word Indian has already been taken and that’s for people from the country that we call India.