My wife is an Indian (Sioux and Oneida) and has no problem with Indian team names/mascots except for two: the Redskins because light as she is she was still called a redskin, and Chief Wahoo, because it’s so damn insulting.
Then again, like all tribal Indians, she considers that their business and not ours. There is no faster way of getting on a tribal Indian’s nerves than telling them what they are supposed to think and why. Or even worse, think we are one of them. We aren’t. We come from over there. No matter your color or creed or ethnicity, if most of your ancestry did not come across the Bering Strait land bridge, you are not one of them. And you will never be, no matter how many pow wows you’ve been to. Not that they would ever tell you that. They’ll just roll their eyes when you turn around.
Native-American didn’t always mean American Indian. That definition took hold in the 1970’s*. Back in the 19th century, at least until the Civil War, it meant native-born American, and American meant White, English, Protestant and especially not Irish. In fact, many people in the 1850’s hated the Irish flooding into American ports after the Potato Famine of the 1840’s, hated them so much they formed a political party, the Native American Party. It was a secret, at first–secret societies were all the rage back then–and if asked a member was supposed to say I know nothing. Hence the common name. (Seriously, that explains the name, as stupid as that sounds.) Later it called itself the American Party, but it wasn’t around long enough for that name to stick. To this day we know them as Know Nothings. Only the Anti-Masonic Party of a generation earlier (they really hated Freemasons) had an odder appellation for a major American political party. Continue reading →