The meaning of Wasichu....

topic posted Fri, February 3, 2006 - 8:43 AM by  Unsubscribed
"my name is wasichu. i know thee, i have found thee, & i will not let thee go."

The first people who lived on the northern plains of what today is the United States called themselves "Lakota," meaning "the people," a word which provides the semantic basis for Dakota. The first European people to meet the Lakota called them "Sioux," a contraction of Nadowessioux, a now-archaic French-Canadian word meaning "snake" or enemy.
The Lakota also used the metaphor to describe the newcomers. It was Wasi'chu, which means "takes the fat," or "greedy person." Within the modern Indian movement, Wasi'chu has come to mean those corporations and individuals, with their governmental accomplices, which continue to covet Indian lives, land, and resources for private profit.
Wasi'chu does not describe a race; it describes a state of mind.
Wasi'chu is also a human condition based on inhumanity, racism, and exploitation. It is a sickness, a seemingly incurable and contagious disease which begot the ever advancing society of the West. If we do not control it, this disease will surely be the basis for what may be the last of the continuing wars against all people that believe in a better way!
...excerpt from Wasi'chu, The Continuing Indian Wars,
Bruce Johansen and Robert Maestas
with an introduction by John Redhouse
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  • Re: The meaning of Wasichu....

    Sat, February 4, 2006 - 1:36 PM
    u learn something new every day!
    • Re: The meaning of Wasichu....

      Thu, February 16, 2006 - 3:54 AM
      Very interesting. I've seen different explanations for these words. (The following is not meant to 'compete' with what you posted, by the way.)

      Apparently 'Sioux' is derived from a word that a neigboring tribe (maybe an algonkian-language speaking tribe?) used to call the Lakota. That was the usual process. Europeans would make contact with native groups in a series, and get the name of each new group from the one they spoke to last. John Joseph Mathews described how a bunch of tribes got their English names from the Osage language this way, in his book The Osages (1961), which I think is one of the best history books written by any American author ever. The names weren't always very flattering, depending on how well the tribes were getting along with each other.

      As for 'wasicu', James R Walker (who was a white doctor who lived among the Lakota from 1896 to 1914) apparently recorded this as a word used by Lakota medicine men to refer to helpful spirits. Possibly, the first white people the Lakota met they regarded as friendly and helpful - they were probably the French coureurs du bois who came down from what is now Canada, who would have traded useful items in return for furs. Later, many of the white people weren't - and still aren't - so friendly, as we all know.

      History is interesting, but it doesn't fill your stomach. What is much more urgent, I think (if I may say so) is how indigenous people are doing today, politically, economically, health wise, and so forth, not just in the USA and Canada but also in the rest of the Americas, in Australia and all over the world, in fact. If anybody reading this would like to recieve a regular electronic newsletter of news items from 'Indian country', can I recommend that you go to this website:
      and sign up.
      • Unsu...

        Re: The meaning of Wasichu....

        Thu, February 16, 2006 - 6:19 AM
        Tansi Beebo....
        First...thank you Kind One for the posting and education....anytime we "sit" and discuss, listen or read to broaden our horizons as to understanding each other as a People nothing more nothing less...we are being smiled upon by the Great Spirit...
        I will sign up for the link below...unless I already have...;-)...

        I like you share the same view in regards to that we again as a "People" have much more pressing things to worry about in this day and age...a coming together of the spirit and mind I feel is of importance if we as in ALL people want to heal this our Mother from this very agonizing and painful death....We are the cancer that kills her...but we are also the doctors that can find a cure for this simply facing the fact...that we are all a part of creation...we are all involved in the outcome of this indivudual earthwalk that we are all traveling on...
        Again I thank you for this reading...Kind One...
        Peace, Blessings and Light to you and all of our Relations..

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