Click to Subscribe
▶  More from
Duty Boy to Squaw
Words from Colonial New England and Greater Plantation America, Lost and Found
Searching behind the more deeply layered veil of what is regarded as the extent of all knowledge, generally disappoints when it comes to searching plantation America terms
Duty boy, a designation given to kidnapped and convicted orphans after a shipment of them unsuccessfully mutinied while bound for the English ship Duty in 1621, came up with a listing for the whipping boy. This latter was an extreme upper class practice, possibly contrived or fictitious, in which a prince would have a friend take his beatings for him.
A search for the term Squaw, which first appeared in my reading in Increase Mather’s Indian Warr of 1676 generates propaganda on how it is exclusively a denigrating slur for modern First Nation women .
The term squaw was not regarded as a slur until Indians were on reservations and regarded as second class humans after being consumed by the United States. Until then, it was simply a word for woman used by Delaware and other Indian guides who led European Americans as far as the Rio Grande and Portland Oregon. The fact that English speakers, while very averse to using African place names in Africa [Lake Victoria? Britisher, please], named 26 of their 50 states after Indian place names, along with a myriad of rivers and mountains, demonstrates a high level of European American respect for Amerindian culture and language. Aside from the standard definition below, there was the fact that the enemies of the Algonquin speakers, being the Iroquoian, had a similar word to describe the vagina, which has muddied the linguistic waters somewhere along the line.
Origin of squaw First recorded in 1625–35, Americanism; from Massachusett (English spelling) squa, ussqua “woman, younger woman,” from Proto-Algonquian
The Algonquian languages are a subfamily of American indigenous languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the indigenous Ojibwe language…
eθkwe·wa (unattested) usage note for squaw Originally a neutral term, squaw began to be perceived as offensive by the early 20th century and has since declined in use.
Now for Chief and Sachem…
Sachems were paramount chiefs among the Algonquians or other Native American tribes of the northeast. The two words are anglicizations of cognate terms from different Eastern Algonquian languages. The Sagamore was a lesser chief than the Sachem. Both of these chiefs are elected by their people. Sagamores are chosen by single bands to represent them, and the Sachem is chosen to represent a tribe or group of bands. Neither title is hereditary but each requires selection by the band thus led.
A papoose (from the Algonquian papoose, meaning "child") is an American English loanword whose present meaning is "a Native American child" (regardless of tribe) or, even more generally, any child, usually used as a term of endearment, often in the context of the child's mother. The word came originally from the Narragansett tribe, just one of the current 573 federally recognized tribes. In 1643, Roger Williams recorded the word in his A Key Into the Language of America, helping to popularize it.
Chief, the word most often assigned to famous Native Americans, a word commonly used as a slur by late 20th century police in Maryland and New York to denigrate lower class men of all races, including this author, turns out to be a French word related to Chef, which was imposed on the natives, even as the English tended to use more indigenous terms. However, the English in Virginia and Maryland, Georgia and Pennsylvania often used chief, king and even queen when describing native leaders. Thus it appears that the stridently missionary New England Congregationalists, through their use of sagamore and sachem, were more respectful of the native language even as they raged against their religion and culture.
Interestingly, the most lost, corrupted and watered down words remaining from Plantation America, were those used to describe European forced laborers and child slaves such as: slave, transferred from Europeans to Africans[1], transport, convict, servant, redemptioner, cargo, freight, half-freight, employee, bondman, cracker, bondwoman, girl, boy, vagabond, rogue, bound, masterless [which has been taken out of this digital dictionary!] man, property, indented, kidnapped, etc., with few of these ancient American terms for slavery retaining their former connotations and the invented anachronistic term “Indentured Servant” used to replace them. This is apparently the curse of the Native North American of European descent, that while the plight of Amerindians and Africans are emblazoned in the popular narrative, the history of any folk with a general racial resemblance to the soul drivers who played these many peoples off against each other are only permitted to share the history and the blame of the fiends who trafficked our ancestors into misery and then us into the blame-dock of the lie built to obscure that crime.
Semantic Notes
-1. I claim no conspiracy here. Rather it seems that the medieval Arabic term for fair-haired European sexual and civic and military chattel, used through the modern age to describe Europeans enslaved in North Africa, was assigned to Africans held in bondage by Europeans far more regularly than to Europeans held by Europeans, because the Islamic trafficking of Europeans was so brutal due to the extreme cultural negation and alienation of being held not only in foreign lands but at alien hands, that it was thought by English minds, and expressed in writing in Plantation Virginia about 1650, for a person to be held in bondage by a practitioner of another religion to be especially wicked. It seems from this remove that the transfer of the Arabic term for their European property to represent the European term for their African property, was a recognition that although bondage was bad enough, being bound to a master of an alien race and religion in an alien land constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
By 1750, no European Americans held in North America were labeled slaves. Ironically, that label was simultaneously used to designate whites in Africa and blacks in America until abut 1804.
The bringing of Africans to English North America was a great evil on two counts, that mentioned above, and also that it represented an attempt to dispossess non-elite European Americans via population replacement, a process still ongoing these 400 years later.

Explore Plantation America at Patreon:
prev:  We the Evil...     ‹  plantation america  ›     next:  ‘Free Male Inhabitants’
blue eyed daughter of zeus
the greatest lie ever sold
let the world fend for itself

Add a new comment below: