Time for a nice angry rant about this- because this drives me INSANE.
My family is part American Indian. It’s all on my dad’s side and it’s rather prevalent. I don’t mean that we are 1/50th Apache, I mean that my grandfather was a full-blooded American Indian. My dad has the skin tone and eyes but lacks some of the other features.
I don’t count myself as an American Indian but I do consider it to be a part of my heritage. Thus since I was 16 I have spent summers and even whole years donating and volunteering on a number of reservations- often with my grandfather.
I’ve spent a long time on the reservation and a lot of time with American Indians. So far I have volunteered and helped on the following reservations
- Navajo Reservation (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015)
- Crow reservation (2007, 2008)
- Unitah reservation (2013)
- Fort Peck reservation (2017)
- Cheyenne River reservation (2013, 2017)
Note that I often went to multiple reservations a year.
So I know a little bit about what I am speaking about here. I know the people- I’ve spent probably over a year or two with them, and I know the culture.
What drives me insane is how people seemingly care about American Indians but actually don’t. So for all your Facebook activists out there here is some information you may find helpful:
They don’t like “Native American”
Here is the way you refer to American Indians- according to American Indians.
- If possible reference them by their tribe. Know what tribe you’re around. A Comanche is as different from a Navajo as a Frenchmen is to a German. Don’t say “I’m on a Native American reservation” instead say “I am on the Navajo reservation”
- As a collective, they go by Indian or American Indian. When referencing the entire native population this is the term they prefer and that they use themselves.
If you spend time on the res you’ll hear the term “Native American” exactly 0 times. I’d imagine in some more wealthy casino reservations you may see Native Americans being used but on every single one I have been on they go by Indian.
Honestly though 99% couldn’t care less. They REALLY don’t care- it’s hard to express this enough. They could not care less what term we use for the most part.
What drives them insane is white people constantly changing their “term” without their input like that is going to make things better.
White people called them American Indians. They adopted it themselves and accept it as the correct term. It’s also the legal term hence this picture
So now white people feel guilty and don’t actually want to do anything to help so they just make the name more politically correct- like that fixes anything.
So let’s all be clear on exactly what American Indians care about shall we?
1: They care that they live in absolute poverty. You cannot find me an inner-city ghetto anywhere in the US that even compares. We are talking
- 25% graduation rate from high school
- Limited (or no) access to running water or electricity
- No building codes or materials to build- many live in literal huts
- Virtually no commerce and no jobs
2: They care that their entire culture is dying. They care about their languages dying, about their religions dying, and about their population shrinking
3: They care that white Americans focus thousands of hours on the names of Football teams and correct terminology while COMPLETELY ignoring their poverty and desperation.
4: They care that they often possess no rights to the minerals or resources on the empty scraps of land we forced them onto. They care that they have no way to try to actually make any money off the land.
5: They care about their ancestral homeland being stripped from them and that they get none of the profit.
So next time you want to talk about the Redskins or “Native American” remember that you are focusing on something that American Indians do not care about.
Admit that you are fighting this “Redskins” battle because it requires no real work and makes you look good- because it’s not helping the countless American Indians living in horrible poverty.