Learning the language


The origin of the term "  squaw"

To the meat of the subject... lets start with the name for "...the
woman". The names the native women have been called throughout the
centuries have been so mal-aligned. Traditionally, when one thinks of
the word "SQUAW", one thinks of the native women. To knowledgeable
women... actually the name is "INSULTING". Way back when... (history
lesson) the French Explorers (bless them "frenchies") ask the local
natives ..."how do you say her?" (pointing at a women). The local
words they responded with meant many things. (i.e. "the women who
works!", "the women who tends children!", "the women who owns the
lodge!", "the women who tends the flocks, crops, etc. etc") Are you
getting my drift??? They had many names for her according to what she
was doing, or what her status was. NO! NO! The frenchies said...
This! pointing at their penis! (her vagina). SQUAW! They said. The
name stuck ever since.

This unfortunate term was well researched by knowledgeable Native
American Women during the tumultuous 60's when the Civil Rights Movement
was born and minorities started becoming self assertive, self sufficient
and self-conscience. Many of the Native Women became educated and went
into the fields of education, administration, health, law, government,
and many other "glass ceiling" professions. Their efforts des-claimed
many of the notions that had prevailed for past generations. They
discovered the term "SQUAW" was a derogatory term used by the early
eastern tribes to describe sexual activities of the women of their
groups. Naturally the "Frenchies" picked up on it and it spread. So if
there is anyone in your "Trekking Group" who uses the term "SQUAW MAN",
you will know what he is all about. (HE PROBABLY WON'T KNOW!)

Today there is a movement within the Native Groups toward the
dominant white culture and businesses to change any and everything that
has the name "SQUAW" and any other Native American descriptive terms
associated with it. Many "institutes of higher learning" (Colleges and
Universities) which had "Native American logo's, chants, mascots, etc."
complied, .not to offend a minority group. Unfortunately. some of the
professional sporting groups were reluctant to comply. Most noteworthy
of these are the WASHINGTON REDSKINS, CLEVELAND INDIANS, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AND of course, THE ALANTA BRAVES with their "CHOP". They say,".These names are ' money makers' and honor the Native American culture." ( Can you imagine what the African American Community would say if the city of Washington would rename their team "WASHINGTON N _ _ _ _ _'S"???) Do you see the point the groups now make?

To the Western Teton Lakota, the name for the women is "WI AN"
(pronounced ."we ah") There are many derivatives describing her status,
her activities, her influences, her marital status, her motherhood etc., but always with "Wi An".

What history does not tell us is that the majority of Native American
groups were maternal societies. The women were the owners of most every
thing in the group, (i.e. the lodge, the utensils within the lodge, the robes; and within the grazing culture the herds or flocks.) She owned everything. The males of the group were responsible for the security, the hunting, the fighting, the weapon making, the protecting and in all cases, if necessary, the sacrifice to save "The Group"

Later we will cover the names for other members (Lakota).