Native Americans and White Americans


Both Native American and Indian are usually accepted umbrella terms for the various groups of indigenous Americans living in the United States. These groups, historically, have also been labelled redskins, a term that is seldom used today. The reason why people generally abstain from calling Indians redskins today is because many Indians take offense to this word, saying that it mentally takes them back to a time when their ancestors were driven away to make room for European Americans. Interestingly though, a relatively large portion of Native Americans don’t consider use of the word redskin problematic. These different points of view, contrary to each other as they are, have caused a name controversy over the American NFL team that calls itself Washington Redskins.

Another nomenclature issue, unlikely as it may seem, regards certain indigenous Americans frowning upon the usually totally acceptable collective names Native American and Indian. This has to do with both labels having been created by Americans of European ancestry and the fact that Indians often prefer to identify with their people’s name or their tribe’s name, for example Cheyenne or Lakota, to highlight each tribal group’s uniqueness.

Americans from Europe

Continuing on the topic of ethnically motivated classifications, Americans of European descent are typically called white or Caucasian. Both terms, generally, are considered neutral and therefore used without constraints in situations when racial classifications are motivated. However, just like with any other large racial or ethnic group, there is also a lot of racial slur aimed at white people. Two examples of such slur are cracker and whitey.


Another controversial epithet used to denote certain Caucasians is redneck, which is a term that is typically applied to rural, white, working class southerners. For self-identifying rednecks the label is worn with pride and associated with guns, big trucks, conservatism, hard work, an honest living and a do-it-yourself-attitude. Used by others, though, the word redneck is usually a disparaging designation for people who are believed to be unsophisticated, trigger-happy, closet racists.

Interestingly, when the term redneck is uttered in a negative sense, it is not seldom coming from other whites who don’t agree with the stereotypical way in which white southerners live their lives. This is contrary to the epithets cracker and whitey, which practically no white American would use outside of the situations where they paraphrase other people’s utterances.