With a mischievous twinkle in their eyes, which usually meant they were serious about what they were saying AND their sense of humor was fully in play, my father and his uncle sat me down and explained what that, "um, lady," meant by the phrase,"Indian giver," when I was about 7. They said that many people pay no attention to their words' meanings. They hijack words they've heard spoken by another and use them without thinking. They said, "Look out, most people do SOMETHING without thinking, and some people do MOST things without thinking, some are scared to think, and a lot of them energetically ignore their instincts too, because those are too closely tied to conscience, and we can't have THAT going on,"(bigger twinkle, this one mocking & a bit ticked) "or we'd have to do the right thing--at least part of the time. That would NOT be popular! And consider other people??? Sh!!! Someone'll hear you, and it might catch on!" (Laughter)....If you can't change it, you can laugh. Or cry.... I had asked what some lady was talking about,("lady" was the word I had been taught so far, ahem, so those of you who very much ;) prefer "woman" may now apply my 1st paragraph to me.) :) (Disbelief:) "How can you give someone an Indian? Which one? Do they WANT to go with them? Does the Council know? This doesn't sound right." They exchanged a look I understood a couple of years later, with horror, during American History class. They told me my all-time favorite take on the phrase, one that looks from a totally different angle than "history" (as in, "Well, that's HIS story): "Back in the day, during the earliest parts of the (grins) European Invasion, and during Westward Expansion (Invasion, phase two), there used to be meetings and treaties, in between some nasty battles. The men who spoke for the government, (the same guys that had fought so hard not to have to answer or donate to a government that didn't represent them, and their ilk), did not want to share the freedoms they won with people who were in places they wanted to be or who had access to things they wanted to take or destroy. So, they would try to convince the people who were already there, (whom they called Indians because some guy with a boat or 3 was LOST but :) liked to name stuff) that man could own things like the earth itself, and other things that have life, and spirits, like grass, trees, rocks with gold in them, uh-oh, and animals, and that man could rule these things. See, they had more and bigger weapons, and they were a threat to survival in too many ways on too many days, and more of them just kept coming. Ignore people and you won't know what they're up to, and some will NOT be ignored. Many times the men who knew you could not own the earth any more than the sky, had to sign papers anyway, so their families could maybe get a minute or two of peace and temporary safety. These papers would say invaders were GIVING people who DID discover this continent the right to use something on it that a)wasn't theirs, or anyone's, to give, and b)that the People were already using and taking care of with proper respect, not destruction. They were "GIVING" (snicker, eye roll) "INDIANS" something, but it was not a gift, and they would then proceed to take it back, under some greed-based pretext, & quite often with guns and cannons. The guns were aimed at folk just trying to survive a culture that had to control everything. "Control is an illusion. Man cannot really achieve control, but he can and will fool himself about it." "So, Kiddo," they said, "an 'Indian Giver' is someone who 'gives' something they don't intend to let the other person keep, like those soldiers and government men who signed the treaties with so many tribes. THEY were 'Indian Givers' because they 'gave' to 'Indians' falsely. It means, 'anyone who gives to anyone falsely,' and yet it seems to be named after the people who were badly mistreated this way (and, of course, other ways, as that happens whenever people do not care to learn from each other or come to an agreement that works for everyone, just themselves). It LOOKS LIKE it is named after those folk who got 'given' to, so we will remember them with gratitude for their lesson, and be careful who we deal with in life. Those who forget history are doomed to relive it, get blamed for it, and can't learn from it to be better people." That lady flunked history, or more likely, was given a highly innaccurate textbook and an A+, if she thought the "Indian" was the "giver". "An 'Indian' in those days, anyway, did not 'own' land," they said sitting on the split rail fence (Yep, fence.) of Dad's uncle's pony run, "He was not the giver, and he was not the taker. (Although he had to take a lot of cr...ud.) He was the guy, at dozens of campfires, checking out the guy who thought he was in charge of a very large turtle, ;). He was very much bewildered and saddened by this illogic, but kinda had to deal with it." Confusion all around, therefore. How DO you deal with that kid who won't share his toy, but demands yours? I never have figured that kid out, but I suspect it was learned behavior. Probably his family had been watching history on t.v. Pick a continent, any continent. Sigh. My grandmother said never argue with a fool, people won't know the difference, and then how can they count on you? Her grandmother got it from HER grandmother, but they were dealing with a different kind of society. (Hey, when people don't say what they really think, how do you know what you're dealing with? Please, correct me as desired, and I'll take it, :) under advisement.) Look how much constraint we live under, and the huge limits. Like those ponies inside the fence. One jumped out in 1977, by the way. She went down the road where there was no fence, lotsa clover, lucky girl. She stopped biting after that. We can't jump the fence, and words can be fences too, so we paw that ground. We do own now, too, maybe to spare some land or species from harm, or to quit being moved about place(s) at someone else's whim, and protect our families in a way. I like my father and uncles' take on this. When, in real, written or oral history, did it happen the OTHER way? Except Squanto's fish kindsa things--human kindnesses, and return fire as we know, and why, the indigenous guy was not the Giver, in my family's take on this. It was the guy taking stuff back, and time and bias or misunderstanding and presumption played "telephone" with it and changed the perceived meaning. And I'm sticking with that, because that fits with what we know happened. People, the lesson and the humor exist in keeping it real, I say. Ask James and Ernie, Dine' comics and huge promoters of laughing at life, which DOES NOT mean do nothing else. Ask any comic. They get laughs when we can relate. We laugh cuz we need to. So, laugh, my friends, AND stand up for what you believe in--without letting anyone corrode your spirit and resilience. Why let anyone pass on more diseases, (step away from suspicious blankets, yo!) like ulcers, by not seeing the Creator's gift of humor as a favorite song, here.Nothing wrong with healing while you speak up and say, "Hey!". It is often the most ridiculous things that make ME angry, when I'd so much rather laugh, and solve, than get all tangled up in my head or react, ;) in an unplanned manner. In the end, let 'em say what they want. It doesn't change who you are, or your worth one bit. Take a look at how such folk treat each other. You know better. Be grateful for that. I really don't think people think about what the phrase means, OR what the implied insult was in their ill-chosen words,(they didn't notice, it wasn't about them) over breakfast, to the teenager they then blame for 'acting out'. Do NOT grant credibility to jerks. Go swimming instead. Dance. Sing, even badly. No one really hears you when you whine about it, so don't DO that! Smile. (As a way to deflect resentment-why should you have to feel rotten cuz so&so's an idiot?) Say, "Yep, gotta love those treaties! Never sign one of those! Yikes!" and grin, when you hear misinformed Giver-speak. (They won't get it. You will.) Grin, and keep walking. Blame is a bad circle. It makes change unlikely. It's harmony I'm looking for. (I'd better go get some binoculars, huh?) Screenwriters, for one, are taking care of it, and actors. Show, don't tell. It's believable. Give! Kinda simple, so, hard to see as an answer. It can be that smile, or one short history snippet to whet their palate, or a bite of kneel-down bread. Or not. "Mitakuye Oyasin." "We are all related." -Hyemheyosts Storm, quoting his ancestors, and he's right, for good or bad, or what we make of it. ;) Thanks for listening. Good night. :) With respect, Sarie P.S. Jump the fence, find your clover, live well. Now, that gets even!