Talk:American Indian

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Could this article possibly be broken down into more pieces? American Indian in a broad sense refers to all the indigenous peoples of North and South America, which is alot of ground to cover. Can we do an article on just North American Indians, and then maybe one on South Americans?Jnl001 12:46, 22 May 2007 (EDT)


"Native American" vs. "native American"

The term "Native American" does not mean the same thing as the phrase "native American". (Sorry I didn't explain this edit in the comment line. I can expand my explanation here if anyone wants to discuss.)--Hsmom 23:12, 25 May 2007 (EDT)

So what's the difference? And if you think that there was a punctuation error, why didn't you just correct the punctuation? Please don't just remove the sentence. RSchlafly 01:36, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
Sorry - I did a quick edit when I should have explained and discussed it here first. Let me explain. As you know, "Native American" refers to an American Indian, whereas "native American" refers to someone who was born here. (As opposed to "naturalized American", which refers to someone who was born elsewhere but has become a citizen here - like Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example). I think the context in which "Native American" or "native American" is used is usually enough to differentiate them (especially because almost everyone who is Native American would also be native American). If the context is not clear, one can always use "native-born American" instead of "native American", or "American Indian" instead of "Native American". The original sentence in the article was "Furthermore, the term Native American literally means anyone who was born in American as an American, so it can also be used by any American who wants to distinguish himself from an American immigrant." This sentence, as written, didn't make any sense to me, because I read it literally - that is, I read it to mean that any native-born American could call themselves a "Native American", with a capital N. Now I see that's perhaps not what was meant by the original sentence. Of course anyone can call themselves anything they want, but since "Native American" (with a cap N) generally isn't used to mean "native-born American", I thought (based on my original reading of it) the sentence didn't really add anything useful to the article and was confusing. That's why I took it out - I didn't think the sentence would make sense if I changed the cap N to a lower case N. However, since you put it back in, I assume you think it's important to the article to explain the two terms, and I can see that makes a certain amount of sense. If we're going to include information about the term "native American", then I think the sentence needs a bit of tweaking. How about The term "Native American", with a capital N, should not be confused with the phrase "native American", with a lower-case N. The term "native American" or "native-born American" refers to an American who was born in America, as opposed to a "naturalized American", who was born elsewhere but has become a citizen of America. What do you think? I welcome your input - let's work together to make this the best it can be.--Hsmom 09:46, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
I believe that any native-born American is just as much a Native American as anyone else. I object to any implication that some people are more rightfully called Native Americans, with whatever punctuation, based on how many generations their ancestors lived in America. I don't think any more needs to be added.
Someone else tried to edit it to imply that using the term native American to refer to a native-born American went obsolete in the 19th century. However, I do not think that is true. In my experience, many non-Indians readily identify themselves as native Americans, and American Indians are happy to be called Indians. RSchlafly 11:16, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
RSchlaflyFirst, let me say I had *no idea* that this was being discussed over at "Native American" when I did the original edit!
I see your point that the term "Native American" *could*, in theory, be used to refer to someone who was born in America but is not of indigenous decent. However, my personal impression is that this usage is rare. Do you find that people actually use it this way (with the capital N), or are you just making the argument that it *could* be used this way? I agree with you that the use of "native American" (with a lower-case N) to mean "native-born American", is not obsolete, but we must be careful not to confuse the two. In fact, I think it's important to explain the usage of both. How's this for a compromise - I think it contains what you were saying, plus explains the different usage of the two terms:
The term "Native American" literally means anyone who was born in America, and can be used that way; however the term is usually used to refer to an American Indian. The phrase "native American" (with a lower-case "N") or "native-born American" is usually used to refer to an American who was born in America. In contrast, the term "naturalized American" refers to someone who was born elsewhere but has become a citizen of America. --Hsmom 14:33, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
You are making some statements about how terms are "usually" used. I doubt that you are correct, and I don't see how the statements are helpful even if they are. So I don't agree with your proposed change. RSchlafly 00:46, 27 May 2007 (EDT)

RSchlafly, you are right - I shouldn't expect you to see my point of view without references. I did some looking - see below.

  • native American –noun a person born in the United States. [1]
  • Native American –noun Indian [2]
  • Native American n. A member of any of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The ancestors of the Native Americans are generally considered by scientists to have entered the Americas from Asia by way of the Bering Strait sometime during the late glacial epoch. [3]
  • Native American noun American Indian [4]
  • native american adjective 1. of or pertaining to American Indians or their culture or languages; "Native American religions"; "Indian arrowheads" [syn: Indian] noun 1. any member of the peoples living in North or South America before the Europeans arrived [syn: Amerindian] [5]

Our article currently says "Furthermore, the term Native American [with a capital N] literally means anyone who was born in American as an American, so it can also be used by any American who wants to distinguish himself from an American immigrant." While I agree that it can be used this way, the references above seem to back up my understanding that this is not at all common usage, and I think if we are to be encyclopedic we should make that clear. Of course, there may be contexts or communities where this usage is common, and I have not done extensive research - could you give some examples of where you see "Native American" (with a capital N) used to mean "native-born American"? --Hsmom 13:25, 28 May 2007 (EDT)

Your source suggests that "Native American" is a politically motivated propaganda term that is intended to imply that American Indians are the original inhabitants of America. The source is wrong when it says that the implication is "historically accurate". There is substantial evidence that American Indians were not the original inhabitants.
I don't know why you are pursuing this, unless you want CP to use terminology that suggests that Indians are more native to America than anyone else. The current text is correct, and avoids the inaccurate implications. RSchlafly 14:41, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Your source suggests that "Native American" is a politically motivated propaganda term that is intended to imply that American Indians are the original inhabitants of America. I agree that "Native American" is a politically motivated term that is intended to imply that American Indians have been here for hundreds, thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of years longer than European Americans. (I have no idea exactly how long.) I realize that you don't like the use of this term, because you believe that all Americans are equal, regardless of how long their ancestors have lived here. I think you have a legitimate point, and I do not have a problem with this being expressed in the article. But we can't pretend that the term "Native American" (with a capital N) really means "native-born American" if it isn't actually commonly used that way.
The source is wrong when it says that the implication is "historically accurate". There is substantial evidence that American Indians were not the original inhabitants. I think the issue is more complex than this, but I'm willing to believe that current day Indians are not direct descendants of the earliest people who lived here, and I hope that CP articles will eventually expand on this point.
I don't know why you are pursuing this, unless you want CP to use terminology that suggests that Indians are more native to America than anyone else. I am pursuing this because I want CP to have an accurate definition of the current usage of the term "Native American" (and, ideally, "native American" as well). That's the whole point of an encyclopedia. I don't care if you raise the point that Native American literally means anyone born in America (although I'm not sure what you mean by "as an American", since everyone born here is a citizen), or if you add a paragraph discussing why the term is problematic. I'm not expressing an opinion as to whether I think the term is a good one or a bad one. I just don't want anyone to come away from the article thinking that the term "Native American" (with a capital N) is commonly used to mean "native-born American", because at least so far I haven't ever seen it actually used that way. (Though it's possible that it is sometimes used that way, no examples have yet been given.) If we want to, in general, use "American Indian" here at CP instead of "Native American", that's fine with me.
The current text is correct, and avoids the inaccurate implications. I disagree. I believe the current text implies, incorrectly, that it is common to use the term "Native American" (instead of "native American") to mean "native-born American", and I believe (at least until shown otherwise), that this is not the case. --Hsmom 13:14, 29 May 2007 (EDT)

References and Notes

  1. "native american." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 28 May. 2007. < [1]>
  2. "Native American." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 28 May. 2007. < [2]>
  3. "Native American." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 28 May. 2007. < [3]> This entry includes the following usage note: "Many Americans have come to prefer Native American over Indian both as a term of respect and as a corrective to the famous misnomer bestowed on the peoples of the Americas by a geographically befuddled Columbus. There are solid arguments for this preference. Native American eliminates any confusion between indigenous American peoples and the inhabitants of India, making it the clear choice in many official contexts. It is also historically accurate, despite the insistence by some that Indians are no more native to America than anyone else since their ancestors are assumed to have migrated here from Asia. But one sense of native is "being a member of the original inhabitants of a particular place," and Native Americans' claim to being the original inhabitants of the Americas is unchallenged. · Accuracy and precision aside, however, the choice between these two terms is often made as a matter of principle. For many, Native American is the only choice for expressing respect toward America's indigenous peoples; Indian is seen as wrong and offensive. For others, the former smacks of bureaucracy and the manipulation of language for political purposes while the latter is the natural English term, its inaptness made irrelevant by long use. Fortunately, this controversy appears to have subsided somewhat in recent years, and it is now common to find the two terms used interchangeably in the same piece of writing. Furthermore, the issue has never been particularly divisive between Indians and non-Indians. While generally welcoming the respectful tone of Native American, most Indian writers have continued to use the older name at least as often as the newer one. · Native American and Indian are not exact equivalents when referring to the aboriginal peoples of Canada and Alaska. Native American, the broader term, is properly used of all such peoples, whereas Indian is customarily used of the northern Athabaskan and Algonquian peoples in contrast to the Eskimos, Inuits, and Aleuts. Alaska Native (or less commonly Native Alaskan) is also properly used of all indigenous peoples residing in Alaska."
  4. "Native American." Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. K Dictionaries Ltd. 28 May. 2007. < [4]>
  5. "native american." WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 28 May. 2007. < [5]>

9300 years old?

"However, the oldest American skeleton is the 9300 year old Kennewick Man that is physically dissimilar to modern American Indians"

How does this reconcile with the 6000-year age of the planet? PFoster 15:51, 16 July 2007 (EDT)

It doesn't. Hard-core Creationism fails.


Does anyone have a source for the statement "But the facts are that American Indians have very different characteristics from Asians, ranging from blood types to DNA, making claims of such ancestry virtually absurd." It is clear that any such confident statement about "facts" should have a source to back it up. Denying this is like denying that i\times i=-1. Or perhaps the author would deny that i\times i=-1 just because some liberal says it is not true. AndyJM 10:59, 16 January 2009 (EST)

No, AndyJM, look yourself first. In just a few minutes of Google searches I found multiple examples of fundamental differences between the two ethnicities. You would too, if you opened your mind and looked.--Andy Schlafly 11:54, 16 January 2009 (EST)
Aren't all people descended from Adam? Even from Noah? Since that time there has been enough of a change in different people's genetic information to have Asians, Africans, American Indians, Caucasians, etc. what makes it so unlikely that such changes could have occurred after some ancient inhabitants of Asia made there way to North America. I'm not saying that it is true. I have no personal knowledge and no way of forming an idea on the subject. I am just pointing out that genetic differences do not prove the idea wrong. --Tim TalkFormerly CPAdmin1 13:31, 16 January 2009 (EST)

"Creationist" explanation

Further to the section above, I was wondering what Andy thought about how the American Indians did get to America. Then I saw RodWeathers' addition supposedly giving a "creationist" explanation. The problem is that his source is not a creationist, although it quite possibly does give what Numbers considers to be the creationist explanation. If that's the case, however, I'd like to know his source.

I doubt that creationists would have a major problem with the secular explanation, other than the timescale.

Philip J. Rayment 06:01, 17 January 2009 (EST)

I think that Andy's problem is that American Indians do not resemble today's orientials, such as those living in China. But Asian is not the same as Chinese. The mainstream theory is that the American Indians are descended from Siberians. See [6], which claims that Navajo and Russian Tuvans have similar DNA. RSchlafly 13:08, 17 January 2009 (EST)
Your cite is to one person's opinion from a decade ago. Even scientists who think American Indians somehow descended from Asians admit that they do not know from whom or how, as in this more recent and thorough Russian article:[7]
When a theorem is unproved, then the rational observation is to note that it is unproved and thus it is not known if the theorem is even true. The origin of the American Indians falls into that category. Likewise, if the overall temperatures this year are higher than last year's, it is junk science to insist that must be due to man-made global warming. Instead, the proper answer is that science does not know the reason.--Andy Schlafly 13:59, 17 January 2009 (EST)
Your Russian source says "Today scientists agree that roots of the American Indians have Asian origin." It does not say that Asian origin is absurd. RSchlafly 15:09, 17 January 2009 (EST)
The source repeats what is widely taught, but then goes on to explain how little agreement or evidence there is for any specific theory of descent. In fact, many of the widely taught theories have been proven to be implausible.
The source also glaringly omits obvious indications of descent like blood type, fingerprints, intelligence, and other characteristics--Andy Schlafly 16:04, 17 January 2009 (EST)
I'm a little confused by this post. Are you claiming that intelligence is an indicator of genetic ancestory? DonnieK 13:36, 25 May 2011 (EST)

Let's back up a moment here. I believe that we are confusing two different issues:

  • Where, geographically, the Indians came from.
  • Who, genetically, the Indians are descended from.

Most of the discussion above revolves around who, not where, yet Andy's edits to the article dispute where they came from as well as who.

Secular anthropologists and archaeologists tend to assume, until they have reason to believe otherwise, that various people groups developed where they now are. So if they find genetic similarities between Indians and Mongolians, for example, they will tend to assume that they came from the geographical area that Mongolians now live in.

In the creationist scenario, however, people spread out around the world from Babel. So, to be completely hypothetical, the Indians may have come from the area we know as China, but started their migration from there as the next wave of arrivals from Babel settled in the region of China and displaced them. That is, they may have come from China but not be closely related to the modern Chinese (still being totally hypothetical).

Genetic relationship is derived from DNA studies. Geographical relationship is derived from archaeological evidence such as pottery and tools. Evidence in support of my hypothetical scenario would be similarity in pottery and tools with China, but a lack of similarity with DNA. If secular anthropologists and archaeologists do find this similarity of artifacts but not DNA, they will likely end up not agreeing on where the Indians came from. Lack of agreement seems to be the case here, and would suggest that they are working with an incorrect paradigm.

Philip J. Rayment 17:42, 17 January 2009 (EST)

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