Posted by Pdianek on January 10, 2004
In Reply to: Indian Giver posted by Soren on January 09, 2004
: I've been lead to believe this saying came from a misunderstanding of trading between settlers and Native Americans. "Indians" would lay their wares at the feet of settlers as customary to begin trade, when settlers didn't have anything to offer that the Native Americans wanted; They would pick-up all their things and leave. Settlers were confused and thought that they were presenting gifts and then later taking them back. Most tribes do not make a show of giving gifts and will not "give" openly.
Some people believe it comes from the practice of the US federal government (19th c.) repeatedly promising Native American tribes given territories, then years later reneging on the promises, forcing tribes to move on to smaller lands with soil too poor for cultivation -- effectively starving a "problem population".