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  • Serious blogger is serious. Srsly.

    The "actress" Jessica Simpson is an airhead. Everyone knows this, and usually what comes out of her mouth is disregarded after some eye-rolling and/or rude giggling at her expense.

    She was recently asked if she would demand the return of a gift she had given to her ex-boyfriend, Tony Romo. Her comments pissed off many Native Americans because she said she was no "Indian-giver."

    This anger confuses me. I had always assumed "Indian-giver" was a slam against white people, because of the many treaties signed and then broken by the white settlers in North America. You see, much was given to and promised to the Native Americans ("Indians") by the whites, but much was retracted and ignored by the whites. In this respect, an "Indian-giver" is one who gives a gift only until such time as the giver wants it back. No gift is truly "given." As I read her statement, I got the impression she thinks the same way.

    Sure, she made her case worse by stating outright that she was herself an "Indian," but who knows? Perhaps she is.

    If my interpretation of the phrase is in fact incorrect, please help me. I want to be as well-informed as I can, although I haven't used that phrase since I was a child and didn't understand how words hurt people.


    Anonymous said...

    I, too, have never understood the outrage by Native Americans over the use of that phrase, but I continue to avoid it in the event that there's something I'm just not getting.

    Beav said...

    To my knowledge, the term came into usage because of the relatively-newly-arrived European-Americans' misunderstanding of Native-Americans' belief system.

    New guys ask, "Can we have this land?" By this, they mean they want to own the land and keep it as their property.

    Natives say, "Sure thing." By this, they mean there is no problem with new guys camping out. They have no claim over the spot because no one can own the Earth. It belongs to itself.

    Sometime later, Natives want the new guys to scoot off. New guys assume they are trying to renege on the gift of the land that they had given - take it back - and coin the term "Indian-giving."

    This may not be absolutely true, but it is how I heard it.

    Soo Mi said...

    hmmm... the flip side of *my* interpretation. Interesting.

    Obviously, the best modus operandi is to just avoid saying it at all. I was smart enough to realize it sounded stupid back in elementary school. One might suggest that Ms Simpson isn't quite that smart.

    And some people just can't help but talk out the back of their neck.

    Zenka said...

    I'm raising Native kids, and Beav's basically got it. And it's offensive because it's used in a derogatory way toward Natives. Same for "Chief" - it's not necessarily the word itself, it's the nasty way it's often used toward my kids' people.