Posted by Word Camel on October 20, 2002
In Reply to: Ask and American Indian the meaning of this phrase. posted by Silver Surfer on October 20, 2002
: : : It meant someone who gave something then wanted it back.
: : : Just guessing, but with this meaning, p'raps it stems from the fact that certain Amerind cultures have a vastly different notion of property ownership than EuroAm culture.
: : : "I want to grow wheat on this field."
: : : "Sure go ahead."
: : : Next year the tribe is encamped there.
: : : "You said I could grow wheat here."
: : : "Yes and you did. Now I am spending the summer here."
: : If you want to know what the American Indians, whom you all acknowledge
are the source of this phrase,consider its meaning to be. Ask one. Who should
know better than they, the true meaning of Indian giver?. You will find, as I
have, that it stems from the white man giving to the Indian, only to take back
the gift when it suited him to do so. This happened countless times, in land (which
ironically the Indian already owned), in material gifts, and in promises.
: : ES
: It really does depend on which American Indian you ask, most have never heard of the phrase.
I grew up with Ed's understanding of the meaning and have subsequently questioned all my relatives (none of whom are American Indians but live in close proximity to many) who share the same understanding. I think it's just possible there could be regional differences in how it's understood.