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Setting the Record Straight

(Infrequently Asked Questions)

There is a lot of very good information about native peoples of America and their languages out there on the Internet. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of garbage. Some of it poses as scholarship.

We have strived to include links to as much useful information as possible on our website. However, we are trying to present a correct resource here. Though we have linked to websites which take different positions on legitimate disagreements of theory or history (Was Michigamean a Siouan language? Did Pocahontas really save John Smith's life?), we have not linked to anything we know is substantially incorrect, nor to claims which are unsupported by any fact.

Instead, we would like to correct some of the myths, mistakes, and just plain made-up stories of the Internet on this page.

Setting the Record Straight: Native American languages

1. Aren't all Amerindian languages related?
2. These 'languages' are really dialects, right?
3. Are Amerindian languages related to Mongolian?
4. Are Amerindian languages descended from Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, or Scandinavian languages?
5. Are Micmac, Cree, or Mayan hieroglyphics descended from Egyptian hieroglyphics?
6. Were Micmac, Cree, or other Amerindian writing systems invented by European missionaries?
7. Was the Cherokee writing system invented by a missionary?
8. Why is the word "squaw" so offensive? Does it mean woman, prostitute, or vagina?
9. Why do Indians in the movies say "How"? Is this a real Native American word, or a Hollywood thing?
10. Somebody I know serves in the army and says that "Opahey" is Cherokee for "This is a good day to die." Is that true?
11. Does "Bia tsimbic da-sasua" mean "today is a good day to die" in Crow?
12. Does the Sioux word for white people, "wasicu," really mean "steals the fat"?
13. Does the word "Eskimo" really mean "eaters of raw flesh"?
14. Is "Namaste" really a Native American word? How about "shaman"?
15. Why do people shout 'Geronimo!' when they jump off something high? Is there a real Apache origin to this?
16. Is "Ishmay Omay" really a Blackfoot spiritual creed?
17. Is it true that the Hopi word for sun is the Tibetan word for moon and vice versa?
18. How many Eskimo snow words are there?
19. You said a language I was looking at was undergoing "language revival." I thought it was impossible to revive a language once it was dead.
20. If American Indian kids are raised with their traditional languages, will it disadvantage them by making them speak English more poorly?
21. Are Amerindian languages simpler and more primitive than European languages?
22. Is it true that Amerindian languages have no word for time, love, honesty, etcetera?
23. Do Amerindian languages come from outer space, the spirit world, or the lost island of Atlantis?
24. Is it true that all Amerindian languages [insert verb phrase here]?

Setting the Record Straight: Native American peoples

1. How did Indians get to the Americas?
2. Is it possible they migrated to America recently, like 700 or 1000 years ago?
3. If Native Americans migrated from Asia, then they're not really 'Native' at all, right?
4. Are Native Americans a lost tribe of Israel, Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, or any other people mentioned in the Bible?
5. Did a lost tribe of Israel sail to America and join the Indians, maybe?
6. But aren't there special similarities between Aztec/Mayan culture and ancient Middle Eastern cultures, such as hieroglyphs, pyramids, symbology, traditional religions, and ethical laws like the Ten Commandments?
7. Did Viking explorers settle in the Americas? Did Native Americans descend from them?
8. Is interbreeding with Vikings or lost Israelites why some tribes are lighter-skinned than others?
9. I heard that there was a tribe called the "blue-eyed Indians" because Norse or Celtic explorers intermarried with them. Is that true?
10. I heard that a Welsh prince founded the Mandan Indian tribe and that they even speak Welsh today. What about that?
11. Did Native Americans come from outer space?
12. Did aliens build various Native American monuments? If not, then how did Indians build things that relied on advanced astronomical knowledge, why did they build things that made patterns visible from the sky, and why did the natives of Mexico and Guatemala build monuments that were so much more impressive than things in North or South America?
13. Why do people believe these things?
14. If you drilled through the center of the earth from Hopiland, would you end up in Tibet?
15. Did the Blackfoot Indians ever live in the South (Georgia, Virginia, the Carolinas, etc.)?
16. Who invented scalping? My history book says it was the Indians but the tribe who lives near me says the colonists used to scalp them.
17. Were Native Americans cannibals?
18. Did Native Americans really kidnap white children?
19. Hey! You called Battle X a massacre or Massacre Y a battle! Are you a politically correct panderer/a Nazi?
20. Isn't it true that before Europeans got here Native Americans never polluted, wasted anything, killed women or children, and they never invented child abuse, rape, or slavery?
21. Who was more civilized, the Europeans or the Native Americans?
22. By the way, is it "Native Americans," "American Indians," or what?

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