Wednesday, June 03, 2015

aboriginal /ˌabəˈrijənl/

Long long ago in a galaxy way too close for comfort, one of the douchiest douchebags in human history – I think his name was Christopher Columbus – paid a visit to the Americas, bringing its indigenous peoples the gifts of smallpox, patriarchal greed, the grooviest ever gender-ambiguous Spanish fashions and, last but not least, a new name: Indians.

Indians, he called them because he didn’t realize what hemisphere he was in. Nice try Chris.

More than 560 years later I still cannot say the word Indians without knowing if I've been understood. Have we still not figured out the difference between First Nations peoples (or Native Americans if you’re south of the 49th parallel) and people from the nation of India? Do we need to sit down and get this sorted out once and for all?

I've got a job, I explore
I follow every little whiff
And I want my life to smell like this:
To find a place, an ancient race
The kind you'd like to gamble with
Where they'd stamp on burning bags of shit

-The Tragically Hip (song: Looking For a Place to Happen)


IntrepidReader said...

I certainly think we do because "Tech support or Casino Indian?" is a truly offensive way of determining the difference, but one I have heard (and never used) more than once. As a Canadian with Mohawk blood coursing through my veins I am not sure of the solution. Indigenous? Aboriginal? Native? Surely anything we come up with will offend someone in some way.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

I'm fine with the First Nations label which is now the dominant custom in Canada to the best of my knowledge, or any combination of labels which make some sense. But there are (generally older) natives who self-identify as "Indians." I just wish we could reserve "Indians" for the actual nation of India. There is only one, after all. And I wish we would have made this change five-hundred-and-what-not years ago when Columbus face-palmed and said, "Oops! Not Indians! Sorry! Too much rum this morning! Hee hee hee heee!"