The American Aborigine

So we shouldn’t call them “Indians.” America is not India.

I’m partial to Injuns, but that would probably be considered in the same category as wop and nigger.

“Native Americans” is the preferred term, but it is also misleading. I was born here. My family has lived here for generations. I’m a native American.

Sometimes you see “Amerindian.” It is unambigious, but it still harkens back to the old India fallacy.

No. The only perfectly appropriate term is “aborigine.”

From Merriam-Webster …
Main Entry: ab·orig·i·ne
Pronunciation: “a-b&-'rij-(”)nE, -'ri-j&-
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin aborigines, plural, from ab origine from the beginning
Date: 1533
1 : an aboriginal inhabitant especially as contrasted with an invading or colonizing people
2 often capitalized : a member of any of the indigenous peoples of Australia

Definition 1 fits perfectly.


Also ambiguous, given #2. Might’swell call them Siberians.

I agree, but common usage of “aborigine” or “aboriginal” has such a strong association with the indigenous people of Australia that it would be difficult to change that without confusing people, even if you’re technically correct.

It could be worse: the British still use the phrase “Red Indian”. Very annoying.

In my magazine, when we refer to a person from a tribe, we either refer to the tribe (Navaho, Cree, etc.) or we don’t say anything about it at all. We have people quoted refering to themselves as “American Indians,” rarely “Native Americans.”

Yes. But you’re not a N[/u}ative American. I think that if the term is agreed upon by those whom it represents (which in my experience it is) then it is acceptable.

You are attempting to provide a definition of Native American based on the dictionary definitions of its two components. It is akin to saying that we shouldn’t call it the White House because I live in a white house too.

In any case, as Eve said, when referring to specific groups you should always refer to the band or tribal name.

Oh, crapola.

Make that Native American.

By your reasoning, Ol’Gaffer, we might as well just stick with “American Indian.”

Well, given that the majority of folks who can be so described, while preferring to be known by the name of their particular nation, seem to accept “American Indian” as a second choice when all the various nations are lumped together, Ol’Gaffer’s suggestion tends to make sense.

Sure. Are you confused by the reference? However, I am not Native American and, therefore, not in any position to dictate what they should or should not be called. If they wish, in lieu of their tribal affiliation, to be called American Indian then that is fine with me.

I wonder what American Indians would call white boys like me if they had the luxury of deciding.

In Canada “aboriginal” is quite commonly used as well (e.g. see the Aboriginal Canada Portal.) I wasn’t aware that Australia had a monopoly on the term, though a quick peek at Merriam Webster on-line shows that this is indeed the case.

Speaking as someone who is a quarter Cherokee, I prefer the term “Siberian-American whose ancestors walked here” myself.

btw, DreadCthulhu, you might like to know that TGWATY is (dramatic pause)

The Goat With A Thousand Young

(maniacal laughter)

Didn’t recognize me, did ya?

and 1/8 Choctaw myself

I’m a human. They’re humans. I don’t get what the problem is.

Call them humans. It isn’t like we’re discussing different breeds of cattle here.

So sorry you find it annoying, old chap, but the plain fact of the matter is, we have closer links with the real Indians and so need a qualifier for the other “Indians”. (I agree it’s a misnomer, but then so is “America” if you think about it.)

May I cordially suggest that you Yanks would be more productively employed in doing what we Brits did with “our” Indians - namely, giving them their <expletive-deleted-as-this-isn’t-the-Pit> country back - instead of nit-picking over what to call them? :rolleyes: And then you’d be in a position to argue the toss over what annoying speech habits we have.

wanders off, muttering about “bloody colonials” :smiley:

We are indeed all human. I am an English human, Africans are African humans and Native Americans are Native American humans. As lets-all-love-each-other and nice as your sentiment is, there is a need for words to distinguish different groups of people, simply for reference purposes. Say I want to put accross the idea that my friend Raj is from Pakistan. I say she’s Pakistani. Someone who wants to put accross the idea that their ancestors were in America before the British and everyone else arrived would say they are Native American, or American Indian, or whatever.

There’s nothing wrong with having terms to distinguish ancestry.

Except that the British call people from India “Asians” (except for the BNP, of course, which call them something else).

Mistreatment of indigenous populations? Gosh, I wonder who we learned that sort of thing from. And I’m not sure the British exactly gave India back, per se…**

Oh, I haven’t even got started on annoying British speech habits. :stuck_out_tongue:

The term Aboriginal here has lately been supplanted by Indigenous Australian, a term I personally prefer.

What’s wrong with Indigenous American?


And I’m sure geneologists and geneticists have better terms than any used here.

For the rest of us, I still don’t see the need to have specific terms to describe when one’s ancestors arrived on a specifc piece of dirt.

Speaking as a mixture of Caucasian and Choctaw, I don’t much care what you call my paternal ancestry. “Aboriginals” makes sense and is used in the same context by both Canada and Australia, but then we’d have the problem with people being offended by being called “abos.”