Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 19:55:50 -0500
From: Gerald Cohen gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UMR.EDU
Subject: Re: Indian giver
Recently there have been some queries about "Indian giver." I see
that the Dear Abby column treated the expression earlier this year; my
copy is from the _St. Louis Post-Dispatch_, Feb. 4, 1997, sec. D, p.2/1-2;
title: "'Indian Giver' Definition Opens Up Culture Clash." I have no idea
about the accuracy of the replies Abby received and printed; is there a
specialist on Indian cultures out there who can confirm or dismiss the
Here are two of the replies she printed:
1) "The term 'Indian giver' has to do with honor. Indians were great gift
givers. If the person receiving the gift did something that was
dishonorable or otherwise brought shame, the giver could ask for the gift
to be returned. The giver did not want to be guilty by association."
2) "In the Indian culture on the East Coast, you could "borrow" a tool,
use it and return it in the Golden Rule tradition.
...When the Indian would "give" an item to someone because it was
praised or needed, the settlers complained when the owner wanted it
back--hence the name 'Indian giver'."
gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]umr.edu