David Yeagley: An American Indian perspective on political correctness
Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student...
FLORIDA, April 1, 2013 — The times are changing, but the culture war drags on with no end in sight. Year after year, we hear the same rhetoric from different faces on opposing sides of tired hot-button issues. For all of the hullabaloo, though, the opinions of one key demographic group are almost never brought into consideration.
This group is the Native Americans, or as many proudly call themselves, American Indians.
David Yeagley has been doing much to change this. The great-great-grandson of Comanche dignitary Bad Eagle, he has been called “an American Indian Leonardo DiVinci”. Bringing his work as “an author, scholar, classical composer, concert musician, (and) portrait artist” into the equation, this should come as no surprise.
Nonetheless, Yeagley’s political perspectives have attracted the most attention. On the political right, he takes outspoken positions on issues such as illegal immigration and the spread of militant Islamism.
In this first part of our discussion, Yeagley explains why he prefers the term “American Indian” and feels contempt for “Native American, if he thinks the concept of political correctness is compatible with American Indian culture, and whether or not he believes that multiculturalism is popular among American Indians.
Joseph F. Cotto:Political correctness has labeled indigenous Americans as “Native American” rather than “American Indian”. Which classification do you prefer?
Dr. David A. Yeagley: The origin of “Native American” is a bit uncertain, but it seems to have evolved from the campus scene, having to do with “classification” of non-white students.
Without hesitation, on the reservations, and among most Indians, “American Indian” is preferable. We are not “Native.” “Native” implies “savage” in the pejorative sense, or “indigenous,” which sounds like a disease, nor are we any other such non-specific peoples in the Third World globe that are simply not white.
These catch-all terms are denigrating to Indians. We alone are named in the Declaration of Independence, and in the Constitution. No other non-white people, from anywhere, share that incredible dignity. I will not share it, nor will any other Indian who is informed.
“Native American” is a liberal inclusive ploy now, to “redistribute” our inimitable honor to any and all other non-white people. As Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute’s “Native Film” program recently demonstrated, all indigenous peoples of the Americas (North, Central, South), Pacific Islanders. Asians, Africans, and even homosexuals, were included in the effort. Sundance bragged about it.
“Native” obviously represented one big brown bowel movement of the Third World. Anyone who wasn’t white was honored ‒ in the name of “Native American.” It was a outrageous travesty. I protested vehemently, and since then, they have toned down the “inclusive” effort, at least in word. (They even removed their celebratory YouTube from the internet.)
“Native American,” while faddish, and perhaps comforting to “oppressed” Indians, it is completely inaccurate. We were not “American.” We were our own nations. Any person, born in America, is “Native American.” For such a concept to lack that basic meaning here in America, and yet maintain it elsewhere in the world, is a piquant irony.
“American Indian” is the only legal, historical, and honorable name to call Indians, unless we go by our own tribal names, which is usually “the people” in our own language. Dine in Navajo. Numunu in Comanche, etc. For all practical purpose in the American public and in American society, “American Indian” is preferable and necessary.
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