"Native Americans" and "Indians"

So I am part of a race and segregation class this year, and we focus on American issues mainly focusing on African Americans and the Latinx population and the discrimination surrounding them. Which is a really big issue in this country, and needs to be addressed, however when we came around to Asians and their racial struggles, we almost only talked about it in relation to African Americans and Latinx populations. Although we got to briefly talk about Asian American struggles, “East” Indian struggles never came up. I understand that most of this class is based off of historic discrimination however I still feel that it is important to talk about all communities and their struggles in today’s society.

 

It infuriates me that people don’t care at all about some issues, but are very PC about every other issue. “Model minority” stereotypes are minimized and often looked at as fact and Native Americans are called “Indians” without batting an eyelash. Being an Indian Canadian in America, I find this very infuriating. In Canada we call the Native peoples “First Nations” or “Natives” short for Native American. However after coming here everyone associates the term “Indian” with being an indigenous person.

 

This is troubling because growing up in Canada before they started officially calling Natives “Natives”, they too called them “Indians”. I grew up thinking that I was the same as the people native to Canada or America, however in 4th grade I asked my teacher when I was very confused about my heritage why we called people here Indian. Were they from India? Were they discovered in India and then brought here? To my surprise, the answer was some idiot came to North America thinking it was India and just colonized it thinking he had succeeded in his ventures to find India. I kind of just got over it, however after hearing the word “Indian” thrown around so much and having to search “East Indian” on Google to get any sort of result of things pertaining to Indian Culture, I’d had enough.

 

I made a conscious effort to try to correct people, teachers, professors, friends, classmates, to try to say Native Americans or Natives as it just disregards all of an actual country just because of a stupid mistake from the past. Some teachers would only say Indian and give extra emphasis to try to bother me. Some friends would shrug it off. But honestly just the word Indian describes my heritage, and my culture. To just attribute that word to people who were once thought to be Indian in a way belittles my identity. For example try calling someone from the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, as a “Pacific Islander”. It’s just not even accurate anymore. On that note, Indians are also Asians, as Filipinos, Cambodians, etc.

 

Anyways. I just wanted to put it out there because it feels like Indians know and stay quiet about it and no one else talks about it. I understand there are Natives that identify with “being Indian” and I’m not too sure what to about that, but it’s just kind of rude in my opinion attributing the wrong label to the wrong group of people. Thanks for listening. Please consider making the switch! :)