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Stop Calling People ‘Savage’

Dragos Nica
Sep 13, 2017 · 7 min read
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In bringing ‘savage’ into the cultural lexicon, we’ve ignored an ugly history of abuse against Indigenous peoples.

II t’s early morning. As you walk around your classroom before your day starts, you overhear two boys talking about how “disgusting” they find it that women can breastfeed in public. You give them a cut-eye that you hope conveys your own disgust at their conversation. You haven’t had coffee. Nearby, Stephanie is being called either “Headphanie” or “Heifernie,” but before you have the chance to put a stop to it or debate Young M.A lyrics, you see one of your students walk in wearing an offensive t-shirt. Someone, perhaps from a classroom down the hall, uses the R-word. Somewhere, it seems in another galaxy altogether, a bottle flips.

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A representative use of ‘savage’ in a headline, via Bustle
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A passage from the Declaration of Independence referring to Indigenous people as “merciless Indian Savages.” (Credit: flickr/Chuck Coker)
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‘Savage’ has been used for centuries to cast Indigenous people as less than human in order to make it easier to justify abuses against them.

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