Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

History of 'Redskin'

A Linguist’s Alternative History of ‘Redskin’

By this time [1769] the original colonial designations of “Christian” and “Indian” were giving way to “white,” “red” and, with the increase in slave traffic, “black”: “Color didn’t originate with Indian-white relations but with slavery,” said University of Connecticut historian Nancy Shoemaker. “It is slavery that makes color seem to be a way to organize people.”

But the original use probably came from Native Americans themselves, says Ives Goddard. (Remembering that original use does not determine what current practice is or should be).

The paper is available: I am a Red-Skin: The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769-1826) (pdf).

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