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Setting the Record Straight About Native Languages: "How How"
Q: Why do Indians in the old Westerns always say "How"? Is this a real Native American word, or a Hollywood thing?
A: Some of both. The generic TV-Indian greeting "How"--and the Y-Indian Princess greeting "How How"--are
Americanized versions of the
Lakota/Dakota Sioux word "Hau," which means
"hello." This greeting is still used by Sioux people today.
Of course, in the movies Indians from other tribes (Blackfoot, Cherokee, Apache, Cheyenne, Mohawk, Navajo, etc., etc) use this word too.
That is incorrect, and is a little bit silly (as if German, Polish and Russian people all said "Bonjour!" in the movies.) If you visit our page of
Native American information for kids, you can learn a friendly greeting in the language
of each of the tribes listed there.
But unlike most of the "Indian words" presented in old Westerns, "How" really does come from an actual American Indian word.
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