ERIC Number: ED396864
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
Reference Count: N/A
Naming Our Destiny: Toward a Language of American Indian Liberation.
This essay provides teachers and others with an awareness of the social and political implications of words used to designate indigenous peoples of North America. How a group is seen by others and how it sees itself in many ways define the conditions under which the group will live, and the options it can exercise to affect these conditions. The distinction between identifying American Indians as members of "peoples" that constitute "nations" in their own right, and casting them as members of groups that comprise something less--a community, a clan, a "minority group," or a "tribe"--incurs a decisive meaning. Words such as "nation" and "tribe" are not interchangeable in either political or legal contexts, all protestations of government officials and "responsible tribal leaders" notwithstanding. Evidence drawn from dictionaries, Native-language terminology, historical documents, treaties, federal legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and international law is used to demonstrate: (1) the inappropriate emphasis on blood lines suggested by "tribe"; (2) the lack of a Native-language equivalent to "tribe"; (3) the animalistic and subordinate connotations of "tribe," as opposed to the strictly human meaning of "people"; (4) the meaning of "nation" and implications for government-to-government relations; and (5) how these words relate to the rhetoric of extermination. Pursuing a language of liberation is the first step in ensuring that indigenous peoples are accorded the inherent rights of self-determination possessed by peoples and nations. Contains 116 endnotes. (SV)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: Churchill, Ward. Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America. Monroe, Maine, Common Courage Press, 1993. p291-357.