"Indian giver" cartoons and themes have been showing up for decades in popular media.

Some New, Some Old: 8 Mainstream Uses of the Term ‘Indian Giver’

Vincent Schilling
3/11/15

As history has shown, the term “Indian giver” has managed to pop up here and there in a plethora of ways, much to the dismay of those concerned of its negative connotations in Indian country.

RELATED: What or Who Is an Indian giver? A History of the Offensive Term

Out of curiosity we did a little digging for some of the ways the term has been referenced. For those who share our frustration and curiosity, here are: some mainstream uses of the term “Indian giver.”

In Songs

From 1969 until recently, song writers and singers have used term, Annette Funicello. And we are not talking about songs on the playground, we are talking about singers and artists who have made an impression. Artists like Funicello, star of “Beach Blanket Bingo,” sang “Indian Giver” and even threw a few “squaws into the mix.

The 1910 Fruitgum Company’s song “Indian Giver” went to No. 5 on The Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 and was on the charts for 13 weeks. More recently Jena Malone, of the Hunger Games, sang an acoustic “Indian Giver” with her band The Shoe.

T-Shirts

The good folks at T-shirt Guru have a vintage Indian giver shirt for those of you wanting to show a bit of “Indian Giver” pride. However, at the low price of 21.97 this product, “isn’t going to make Sitting Bear Rock happy at all.”

Public Slips

From Matt Lauer to the Kardashians, using the term “Indian giver” in the public eye has been a source of true discontent for people in Indian country. In the summer of 2012, during the London Olympics, Lauer told his former co-worker Meredith Vieira not to be an “Indian giver” when she wanted back a pair of underwear. Similar blurbs of using the term have come from other celebrities like Kris Jenner and Jessica Simpson.

RELATED: Matt Lauer Calls Meredith Vieira an 'Indian Giver'

RELATED: Kim Kardashian’s Mom ‘Hates an Indian Giver’

A Seinfeld Episode

On one Seinfeld episode, Jerry has a new girlfriend and constantly finds himself in situations in which he must avoid the terms “reservation,” “scalper” and “Indian giver.”

Cartoons

Though some cartoons have become a bit more culturally sensitive, the Go Go Gophers and Hokey Wolf were among many back in the day that embraced the term “Indian giver” as a comical sentiment, both cartoons had episodes titled “Indian Giver.”

Political Cartoons

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez, whose abrasive political cartoons have landed him in hot water, gained him Pulitzer Prizes, and an inquisitive visit by the Secret Service in his career, hasn’t held back on Native issues. In these two comics, Martinez labels the issues with the stamp of “Indian Giver.”

A Website

Until 2012 there was a fashion website that proudly wore the title IndianGiver.com. It has since been discontinued, but we want to applaud the owner, who has since changed the name to Style Carousel. Here’s to progress!

Memes

We can thank social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for these dandy little sayings that admittedly never die. “Indian giver” is likely still a pretty active school age anecdote, so it makes sense that we still see these things pop up on our timelines.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
So how DID the saying originate? I'm guessing it was the misunderstandings between Natives and White men in the past. As most Natives share everything, I can easily imagine a White man wanting to use something an NDN had and it was given to him freely. Now, language, cultural barriers and our notion of community ownership compounded the problem when the sharing NDN required the use of whatever he "gave" the White man previously.

greenriverkate's picture
greenriverkate
Submitted by greenriverkate on
IN ALL OF MY 70 YRS, I HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHAT THAT MEANS. BEING RAISED AROUND RESERVATIONS IN 13 STATE, MARRYING INTO A TRIBE, RAISING MY CHILDREN TO KNOW THEIR HISTORY, THIS ONE HAS STUMPED ME. I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND NATIVES, GIVING TO ANYONE THAT NEEDS SOMETHING! SO WOULD THAT MAKE IT A COMPLIMENT? NO, NOT IN MY LIFETIME. I HAVE ASKED NUMEROUS NATIVE WTH DOES THAT MEAN AND NEVER GET A REAL ANSWER! WE DECIDED YEARS AGO TO NEVER USE THAT PHRASE IN OUR HOME! NATIVES HAVE WONDERFUL FULL SENSE OF HUMOR, OF HELPING, OF GIVING. SO IT GOES. WILL NEVER MAKE SENSE TO ME EVEN ON MY DEATH BED!
2