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ERIC Number: EJ787736
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
De/Scribing Squ*w: Indigenous Women and Imperial Idioms in the United States
King, C. Richard
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v27 n2 p1-16 2003
Tracing the history of the term "squaw" offers insights into the positionings and politics of indigenous femininity in colonial America. Today, as throughout the colonization of Native America, imperial projects and projections have based themselves upon and imagined themselves through the lives, bodies, and images of indigenous women, situating these women as the ground, object, victim, and oppositional subject of coloniality in American culture. Although generally unrecognized, this situation underscores the differential impact of such projects and projections in four ways: (1) The constricted space for elaborating indigenous femininity mapped in and through "squaw" limits the kind and quality of roles open to them; (2) Colonial cliches such as "squaw" continue to focus the desires and disgust of Euro-Americans on the bodies of Native American women; (3) The insult targets women, injuring their societies; and (4) Issues of sexuality, race, culture, and history foster competing arguments for rights and tradition while fashioning identities (local, national, tribal, and pan-Indian). In this essay, the author examines the formation of the term "squaw," charting the meanings that bind femininity, indigenity, and coloniality together in vernacular and official elaborations of the term and of more recent anticolonial interventions. After examining the diverse uses and understandings of "squaw," the author focuses on three prominent oppositional strategies asserting rhetorical sovereignty, inversion, erasure, and reclamation. This essay concludes with a discussion on the significance of these patterns and practices. (Contains 60 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States