Russell Means

from Russell Means

I abhor the term Native American. It is a generic government term used to describe all the indigenous prisoners of the United States. These are the American Samoans, the Micronesians, the Aleutes, the original Hawaiians and the erroneously termed Eskimos, who are actually Upiks and Inupiats. And, of course, the American Indian.

I prefer the term American Indian because I know its origins. The word Indian is an English bastardization of two Spanish words, En Dio, which correctly translated means in with God. As an added distinction the American Indian is the only ethnic group in the United States with the American before our ethnicity.

At an international conference of Indians from the Americas held in Geneva, Switzerland at the United Nations in 1977 we unanimously decided we would go under the term American Indian. We were enslaved as American Indians, we were colonized as American Indians and we will gain our freedom as American Indians and then we will call ourselves any damn thing we choose.

Finally, I will not allow a government, any government, to define who I am. Besides anyone born in the Western hemisphere is a Native American.

T.R.E.A.T.Y. Productions Copyright 1996

Supplement: Contrary to popular belief, and what's incorrectly taught by the American public school system, the term "Indian" has nothing to do with India and Columbus being lost. Columbus had a lot of faults, but he knew what he was doing. He was not lost. He simply failed to find a route to India from Europe by traveling west. He knew there was land in between, but it was not common knowledge that the American continents completely blocked the way. At no time did he think he was in India. In fact, at that time, India wasn't commonly called India. It was generally referred to as Hindustan. India didn't get officially named India by Europenan establishements until the 16th century, so the American Indian had the name first.