Haskell Indian Nations University

Why it is Time to let the Indian Go

by Joseph Singh

Calling Indigenous people “Indian” is like calling Europeans “Japanese”. The label is erroneous and condescending. The origin of the slur comes from Christopher Columbus who mistook the American continent for India. He then labeled the inhabitants “Indians”. Perhaps it was because of the pigmentation of the Natives. Indians, Indigenous, Latinos, and Africans are some of the groups of people who have an abundance of melanin making their skin pigment darker. What could have been a simple mistake has been exacerbated over time by the neglect to correct this error in classification.

The Inhabitants of the America’s were subject to genocide. Many traditions, cultures, and tribes were wiped from history. The descendants of the Indigenous suffer from an identity crisis. Assimilation reprogrammed the minds of Natives and conformed them to foreign ways and beliefs. Many Natives find it very difficult to uncover their true ancestry because of European occupation. Natives were taken
further away from their culture, until eventually they started to believe they really were “Indians”. We can take it back. Reclaiming the lost culture of the Native American starts with fixing the 500 year old typo that is the word “Indian”. To be called Indigenous would give the original people of this land credit for being here. Using the correct classification would help educate the masses as to what the “Indians” of the Americas truly are. The sacrifices of our ancestors need to be respected and regaled. The survival of the North American Native is remarkable. Clarification is needed to heal the people. Documents will need to be revised. Government departments and school names will need to be changed. Considering all of the injustice, dishonesty, and pain the ancestors of the Indigenous suffered, I do not think rewriting some words would be too much to ask.

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