Natives Aff

The term “Indians” is best—forces us to confront the history of colonialism

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The term “Indians” is best—forces us to confront the history of colonialism

Berry 06 Cherokee writer and producer of the website All Things Cherokee

(Christina, “What's in a Name? Indians and Political Correctness”, All Things Cherokee, SW)

Ironically, Indians, or American Indians (whichever you prefer), did not seem interested in changing their name. AIM, the American Indian Movement, did not begin calling itself NAM. The American Indian College Fund did not change its name. Many Indians continue to call themselves Indian or American Indian regardless of what the rest of America and the world calls them. Why? The reasons are diverse and personal, but there are two popular reasons. The first reason is habit. Many Indians have been Indians all their lives. The Native people of this continent have been called Indian throughout all of post-Columbian history. Why change now? The second reason is far more political. While the new politically correct terms were intended to help ethnic groups by giving them a name that did not carry the emotional baggage of American history, it also enabled America to ease its conscience. The term Native American is so recent that it does not have all the negative history attached. Native Americans did not suffer through countless trails of tears, disease, wars, and cultural annihilation -- Indians did. The Native people today are Native Americans not Indians, therefore we do not need to feel guilty for the horrors of the past. Many Indians feel that this is what the term Native American essentially does -- it white-washes history. It cleans the slate.

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