Etiquette in Communications

Some basic etiquette for non-Indian peoples when standing on Indian Land (ie. the American continent) and when speaking to Native American people.

    • Don’t ask if they get money from the casino.
    • Don’t bother telling the story about the arrowhead.
    • Don’t pick up a rattle and shake it without at least asking.
    • Avoid the ‘who looks more Indian’ stuff.
    • Don’t touch or pick up their personal belongings without asking.
    • Use the word ‘Nation’ instead of ‘tribe’.
    • Refer to Indian traditional clothing as regalia, not a ‘costume’.
    • Avoid the ‘how much Indian are you’ questions.
    • Don’t ask if we are ‘full-blood’ or ‘pure-Indian’.
    • Don’t ask “Are you a real Indian”.
    • Don’t ask ‘can I touch you?’.
    • Avoid interrupting, especially with elders.
    • Avoid the word “Squaw” This is a word that has been used to refer to Indian women. Used as a name for many parks, valleys, mountains etc. The term ‘squaw’ is VERY offensive to Indian women. It has been equated to calling an Indian woman a ‘whore’. Indian women should be called women- NOT ‘squaws’.
    • Avoid The Word “Redskin” Used as a name for many sports teams, this word is offensive by its very nature. In it’s origin, it refers to the bloody scalps of Indian children, women and men that were sold for bounties aside animal skins in the USA. At this sad time in american history, Indians young and old, male and female, were hunted like animals. They were killed, then scalped. When these men would come to the trade post, they would receive money for their deer-skins, their, beaver-skins, their raccoon-skins, and their red-skins. It is a true shame that this horrifying word is still in wide use.
    • Avoid the word “Brave” as a noun This is a word that has been used to refer to Indian men. Used in millions of books, and as a name for many sports teams, people are often surprized to find that it offends Indian people. But it does! It plays on the ‘noble courageous savage’ ideal that was pinned on Indian men long ago by early europeans. It also dehumanizes and equates the Indian male to something less than human. We are men, NOT ‘braves’.
    • Don’t call people “Chief” This is a word that is commonly given as a nickname which incorrectly labels Indian men. The cultural equivelant would be to nickname all white men ‘Prez’ or ‘King’. The term ‘chief’ itself is incorrect. Our leaders were never ‘chiefs’, but headmen, or clan mothers, and so on. Not ‘chiefs’. Our leaders were highly disrespected by the USA. So calling someone ‘Chief’, is just a way to continue that disrespect.
    • Don’t call people “Tonto” Very simply put, this word is from the spanish language, and translated means ‘stupid’, ‘idiot’ or ‘fool’. Enough said.