As an Oklahoma Comanche, I consider myself an "Indian"—an American Indian.
I`m simply a descendent of savage hunters with the most lethal war skills and artful horsemanship known in American history.
I could refer to myself as "nerm" or "num," which, if pronounced half-way correctly, indicates I am of the Comanche people. "Numunu" is what we call ourselves in our own language. But who would know what I`m talking about except Comanches?
White people have called all our tribes "Indians" for over four centuries. And even when they referred to us as Sioux, Comanche, Nes Perce, Coeur d`Alene, most of those names were what some European explorer heard one tribe calling some other tribe.
Few of us are called by our own name in our own language. So what? Names of European countries also get changed quite a bit in other languages: Germans, "Deutscher" are called "Tedeschi" in Italian, for instance. Our Indian peoples are distinguished from one another in historical treaties by the use of these foreign names.
The quest for Ideological Correctness—through terms like Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal, or Indigenous—is ill-fated if not ludicrous. Why swap one European name for another? Why exchange a classy, descriptive French name, such as Coeur d`Alene ("heart of the awl"—indicating able hagglers) for an English derivative of a Latin abstraction like "aboriginal," a vague chronological distinction, or a Spanish derivative like "indigenous," originally meaning poor and naked?
"Indian" is the oldest, most sensible term. When Columbus used the term "Indios" when he wrote to Queen Isabella in 1492 it was because he thought he`d arrived on the western shores of India. What else would he call the people he encountered in the world new to him?
The Tatar Relation manuscript (ca.1247), written in Latin, already referred to the Asian sub-continent people of the "Sindhus" (the Sanskrit word for "river") as Indiam. In English, as early as the 6th century, A.D., Boethius used the terms "India," "Indus," and "Indea" in his De consolatione philosophiae. The Persian pronunciation of "Indus" was of course "hindus," with the sounded "H." One Hindu authority says such a term didn`t enter the "Hindu" vocabulary until the 7th century, or the age of Islam.
But not until 1662 did the Persian term appear in English, in the translations of John Davies (of Kidwell). By the next century, Anglo-Americans referred to people from the Indus as "Hindus." The only people whom they called "Indians" were the inhabitants of the Americas.
Columbus used no such phrase as "una gente en Dios," as modern revisionists like to say. These contortionists propagate this myth to suggest that we are spiritually superior beings, so impressive that Columbus called us "a people in God." But what he called us was "naked as when their mothers bore them."
That term "Native American," like so many things, appeared for the first time in the 1960s, as part of the legal definition of who is considered an American Indian. It involved land squabbles, of course, and the stakes have always been high. When other groups wanted in on the definition through the term "Native American," many "American Indians" objected strongly, to the agreement of some responsible scholars.
In general, however, academic trends list with the social winds. Name-changing, as other university fads, is generally the work of Marxist racial agitators, ever anxious to overturn "the establishment" as a means of clutching at power. Changing the names of things, usurping their meaning, or removing names entirely, are favorite tactics of these leftists. Thus "Negro" became "Colored," then "Black," then "Afro-American" and now "African American."
But then American states, counties, rivers, schools and teams weren`t generally named after Negroes, so that particular name game had its limits. Indian names are the next target. And that name game is just beginning.
But count me out. Don`t call me Native. Call me Savage, Redskin, Injun, Comanche, Red Devil. Don`t worry about being sued. You can`t victimize me with names. I`m not black, I`m red.
"Indian" is what Americans have always called us, and it is the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant with whom we have had mostly to do. The victory was his, not the Negro`s, the Hispanic`s, the Communist`s, or the Arab Muslim`s. Why should I care what they call me?
By the way, I am thinking of suing a certain Michael Weiner—for renaming himself with my honorable, sacred name, Savage!
Dr. David A. Yeagley [email him] is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, Elgin, Oklahoma. His articles appear in TheAmericanEnterprise.com, FrontPageMagazine.com, and on his own Web site BadEagle.com, and he is a regular speaker for Young America`s Foundation. David Yeagley`s columns for VDARE.COM include An American Indian View of Immigration, and To Deport or not to Deport. David Yeagley is the author of Bad Eagle: The Rantings of a Conservative Comanche.