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February 03
Vocabulary to introduce NS12

Vocabulary to accompany Indian Stereotypes activities


  1. stereotype – a exaggerated and/or over-simplified representation (in images, mental images, words) of the characteristics of a category of people or things, in this case the "first people" of the Americas
  2. native – " 1a. One born in or connected with a place by birth: a native of Scotland now living in the United States. b. One of the original inhabitants or lifelong residents of a place."  American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
  3. indigenous – originating or occurring naturally in a place or environment – some writers/scholars use Indigenous Peoples in place of Indians
  4. aboriginal – first or earliest known of its kind in a region, having existed in a region from the beginning
  5. Indian vs. Native American -

"The terms 'American Indian' and 'Indian' are labels that originated at the time of Columbus. He thought he had discovered the Indies so he labeled the peoples he found Indians. 'Native Americans,' …grew out of the civil rights protests of the 1960s-70s. Today, anyone born in this country tends to label themselves as native, therefore the term has lost significance in identifying the Indigenous Peoples of this hemisphere."  (Carol Cornelius, Iroquois Corn, xiii)

Native peoples have specific tribal/band names: Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Mi'kmaq (Micmac), Maliseet, Abenaki – when talking in the plural, add an "s" (e.g. the Penobscots).

  1. generic – applying to any member of a group
  2. dehumanize – " 1. to take away somebody’s individuality, the creative and interesting aspects of his or her personality, or his or her compassion and sensitivity toward others." Microsoft Word/Encarta World English Dictionary.  Also, to portray in a dehumanizing fashion (as in a picture, play, TV ad).
  3. economy – the production, distribution and use of the goods and services of a community as a whole – a good economy benefits the community members – trade is one aspect of a community's economy
  4. naïve – lacking experience or understanding, unsophisticated, extremely simple or trusting, childlike
  5. culture – "1. art, music, literature, and related intellectual activities…3. the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behavior of a particular nation or people. 4. a group of people whose shared beliefs and practices identify the particular place, class, or time to which they belong." Microsoft Word/Encarta World English Dictionary
  6. chief – "the person with the most authority or highest rank in a group or organization, who ultimately controls or commands all the others." Microsoft Word/Encarta World English Dictionary – from Middle English, this is a European title not used by Indians.
  7. squaw – North American Indian wife, from Narragansett squaws (also used as a feminine suffix in other languages) - Like the terms "Indian Princess,"  "Chief," and "Indian Brave," the word "Squaw" carries a significant negative connotation as used by many Non-Natives today. It is best to use the words Woman and Girl.
  8. brave – "a Native American Indian warrior" according to Microsoft Word's dictionary. What Nation? Were all non-Chief males warriors?  Of course not. The term reinforces the "savage savage" stereotype. Use "boys" and "young men" and "men".
  9. princess – Indians did not have kings, queens, princesses, etc. This term suggests that young girls and women are seductive. Use "girls" and "women."
  10. sachem / sacham / sachom/Sakom - title used for the leader of some Indian tribes –  selected for skills and for speaking ability – represented tribe in dealing with others - Penobscot sagama, Micmac sakumow​


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