The Controversy Over the Word 'Squaw'
In the 1960s and 70s a small but vocal minority in the United States began to question our use of certain words that may be offensive to specific groups or individuals. In some cases these questions were justified but the impossible task of trying to purge our language of all possible offensive terms has caused the movement to grow beyond all reason. Many perfectly acceptable words have been branded as offensive or sexist by the movement. The political correctness advocates then proceed to try to get them eliminated from public use. Among these is the word 'squaw.'
'Squaw' has a perfectly acceptable definition: it means 'woman', or 'wife' in the Algonquian language where it originated. The radical American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) has fairly successfully attached a false meaning to the word and spread the lie nationwide. They have then been able to use this fallacy to support a systematic removal of all place names that use this word. Phoenix is a recent victim of this offense.
Below you will find links to research, opinion, and news on the word 'squaw' and its use as a place name.
The Changing Perception of the Word 'Squaw' by Tom Jonas
Comment on the "Squaw" Controversy by Jim Fay, Ph.D.
Comments on the Word "Squaw" by People of Indian Ancestry:
The Definition of 'Squaw' by Tom Jonas
Reclaiming 'Squaw' In the Name of the Ancestors by Marge Bruchac
What is the origin of the English word squaw? by John Koontz (scroll down to the 9th word)
The Sociolinguistics of the 'S- Word'- 'Squaw' in American Placenames by William Bright, Ph.D.
Is "squaw" an obscene insult? by Cecil Adams
Information Sources Used to Prepare Name Change Proposal by Tom Jonas
Copyright 2003 Tom Jonas