Jessica Simpson is not an Indian giver, or so she told TMZ earlier this week, and, although it is doubtful that many Native Americans, otherwise known as “Indians” could care less what kind of “giver” Jessica Simpson actually is, her words did not go over too well in the Native American community. And it all began when TMZ asked Jessica Simpson if she was going to take back the boat she bought for ex-boyfriend, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo. She replied simply, “I’m not an Indian giver.”
“As a Native American,” one comment on TMZ stated, “in particular a Dakota, I find those comments quite sad and stereotypical. But not surprising, if you look at who said them.”
As Indian Express reported, many among the American Indian/ Native American population took offense at the ethnic slur. I am shocked she said that. I didn’t know people still said that,” said another at theforumsite, adding, “She will be apologizing … there is outrage.”
But most, even though they express outrage, are quick to point to the source — Jessica Simpson — not someone known for making the most erudite of comments.
Another comment on TMZ: “I’m a Native American and I cringed when I heard Jessica Simpson comment about us Native Americans. Am I mad!?! I should be, but look at who the comment is coming from.”
As Jacqueline L. Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, pointed out to Us magazine, many people still use the term. She maintains that that the term has become bastardized over time, distorted from its original meaning, a designation that spoke of the giving and sharing nature of many of the American Indian tribes.
Phrases.org states that the term seems to have come from the Native American practice of freely giving gifts as a loan, but goes on to say that this sounds more like a misunderstanding on the opposite side, the settlers, who might loan something or give something, expecting that item be returned or something else in return. This could be the derivation, considering that most Native American cultures practiced that once a gift was given, there could be a like transaction, but the gift now belonged to the person it was given to and dishonorable to give it back.
But Russell Means relates in his excellent autobiography “Where White Men Fear To Tread,” that “Indian giver” was a derogatory term given to white traders and became prevalent especially during the scandalous early years of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA was notorious for giving or promising individuals and tribes any number of items or foodstuffs — or even freedom, and then reneging on the offer.
But the Jessica Simpson controversy? Apparently it is nothing, because when asked about it, she told TMZ, “I am Indian, right?”
Jessica Simpson might speak with forked tongue.
Indian Express is not Native American. It is part of the Indian Express Group, an Indian (Asia) company.