Link Wray, one of several Native Amer...Indian musicians covered in the documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.
  • Link Wray, one of several Native Amer...Indian musicians covered in the documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.
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Political correctness is a game one must master in order to keep the paychecks coming. One thing this woefully incorrect chronicler has learned the hard way is: what plays in the head need not always be read. Err on the side of caution. If it sounds offensive, chances are it is. Or is it?

Video:

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World trailer

The word “deaf” has been in common usage for as far back as memory stretches. There was a brief period where it threatened to go the way of “fat,” “cripple,” and “retard,” three expressions that political correctness has long since shown the door. Surely most would look upon the word “deaf “as socially unacceptable. Just in case, “hearing impaired” replaced “deaf” as the descriptor of choice.

A former boss with a deaf daughter hipped me to the fact that while once the preferred term, “hearing impaired” has since been rejected by the community. “Deaf” was once again in favor. The same holds true of “Indian,” as we’ll soon learn.

The publicist representing Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World — opening Friday at Landmark’s Ken Cinema — took exception with the following line from my review: “The film’s one shockingly non-PC move is the use of the word ‘Indian’ over the more socially acceptable ‘Native American.’”

“Wow,” he wrote. “Let me introduce you to the National Museum of American Indian (a Smithsonian institution).” The museum executive who initiated the exhibit that inspired the film also acted as producer.

The rep linked me to the Q&A section of the Smithsonian website:

  • “What is the correct terminology: American Indian, Indian, Native American, or Native? All of these terms are acceptable. The consensus, however, is that whenever possible, Native people prefer to be called by their specific tribal name. In the United States, Native American has been widely used but is falling out of favor with some groups, and the terms American Indian or indigenous American are preferred by many Native people.”

Rejoice! No more calling my favorite team in baseball the Cleveland Native Americans or referring to the guy next door as a Native American-giver after he asks for the return of the pliers he said I could keep.

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