Jessica Mondillo’s Blog

Political Correctness: Indian vs. Native America

28 August 2008

Political correctness is always an issue and the question is where the line of too much is.  Some people think that has been crossed a long time ago.  Now my question involves the word “INDIAN.”

I never realized that the word “Indian” has finally crossed deep into the realm of being politically incorrect.  In an attempt to list an item on eBay (a site that tends to be notoriously strict on being politically correct), the listing was termed “illegal” according to their policies because it said “Indian” describing a native American on a motorcycle.

My question for everyone is: Is it wrong to use the term “Indian” to refer to Native Americans or is eBay being excessive?  Do people of Native American decent find the term “Indian” offensive and which term do they prefer to use to describe their heritage?

The reason I ask is for two reasons.  First of all I know many people of Native American decent and many of them refer to themselves as “Indians” or use the term interchangeably with “native Americans.” 

The second reason I ask this is my curriculum.  I only graduated from high school last year (2007) and during my public school education, and also my current college education at Boston University, I can remember several of my text books referring to Native Americans either interchangeably or in some cases exclusively as “Indians.”

I am wondering if my background was somehow severely limited or if I am not the only person who does not see the term “Indian” as offensive but as a term that was used (and still is) to describe Native Americans because Columbus had an incorrect belief, that he was in India and not a “new world,” when he reached the Americas.


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  1. From my experience dealing with many Native tribes, it really depends on the individual and the tribe. Most prefer to be referenced by their tribal name first and foremost. If you have to use one of the two general name categories then I think it goes pretty much either way depending on the tribe you are dealing with.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  2. * Jessica Mondillo says:

    Thank you for your help. I can definitely understand prefering to be refered to by tribal names. Each tribe is distinctly different. So it is an individual/tribal preference thing more so than a united front by all Native Americans saying the word “Indian” is wrong.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
    • * Melissa says:

      You wrote: “the word “Indian” has finally crossed deep into the realm of being politically incorrect”

      Are you kidding me?
      Have you ever heard of the American Indian Movement in the 1960’s?
      You need to educate yourself before you write something you know nothing about.

      | Reply Posted 8 years, 7 months ago
      • * williamledbetter says:

        Melissa! Ease up; “educating” herself is exactly what she’s doing in posing the question. I wonder, though, if YOU know anything about the American Indian Movement in the 1960’s because of your incredibly vague reference to it. Why don’t you share (without the critical tone)?

        Posted 7 years, 4 months ago

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