Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Things You Should Stop Saying This Native American Month

1. Let's powwow- What you really want to say is let's have a meeting or let's have a discussion. A powwow is a cultural event for Natives. The jingle dress carries with it 250 to 500 prayers on each and every one of those jingles hanging from that dress. Every dance has a spiritual meaning as does the regalia. 

2. Sit Indian style-What you really want to say is sit on your bottom or sit cross legged. Don't start your children on negative stereotypes by using phrases like these.

3. Squaw- I know there there are a couple of ski resorts named Squaw. I'm sure if the people who named it knew that "squaw" meant "cunt" to the nearby peoples that were moved off that land so that rich people could ski, they would have chosen another name. 

4. But you get free money right?- Not all Natives are members of a federally recognized tribe. The Dunlap Band of Mono are not federally recognized because the California state senator refuses to recognize they exist until the swear in writing that they will not have a casino. Many Natives are on Tribal TANF, a culturally based welfare program. Don't assume all Natives receive a per capita check. 

5. Everything is sacred to you people- We realize that our lifestyle is different. After all, there was no smog and destruction of land until settlers arrived. Just because it is to difficult for you to understand, that doesn't mean that you should be dismissive of our culture and way of life. 

6. Get over it- Here's one reason why we can't do that. The injustices against our people continue today. Every time our grandmothers have violent nightmares of what happened to them in a boarding school, we are reminded of what was done to us. In history class, we are referred to as if we were extinct and as if the injustices ended with slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

7. Let me touch your hair- This is usually said before touching a Native's hair without permission. We aren't baby dolls meant to be touched and brushed at will. Keep your hands to yourself. 

8. What's the big deal? It's just Thanksgiving.- Would you say to a Jewish person, "What's the big deal it's only Christmas?" No, you wouldn't. You recognize and respect that person is from a different culture and religion. Do the same for Natives who vehemently disagree with the European account of Thanksgiving. 

9. We need to study you- This is usually a comment made in favor of keeping Native bodies in a museum. Here's the thing, if Europeans hadn't committed genocide, there would be no reason to study us. Also, many tribal elders admit to lying to anthropologists as a way to ridicule. Many times what you read and see in a museum isn't even the truth. Perhaps we should dig up Hoover and keep him in a museum so that we can study him too.

10. Honest Injun- It's supposed to add validity to your statement but it doesn't. It makes you sound dumb.

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