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57356.  Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:12 am Reply with quote

What did Red Indians say to each other when they met?

F: ‘How’

A: Red Indians – or to be more politically correct ‘Native Americans’ – never had a universal greeting as the original inhabitants of North America spoke 500 different languages. It is also likely that they never said how.

There are some variations on the word how in the different dialects. The Teton Sioux from North Dakota said ‘howo’ and ‘ho’, and the Dakota Sioux said ‘hao’ and ‘ho’. It is thought, however, that these words did not just mean hello, but also served as interjections like ‘well,’ ‘now’, or ‘so’, as in ‘Well, Alan, I see you’ve made another fine mess of this question.’

The reason European settlers called Native Americans ‘Red Indians’ is largely down to the fact that their first contact was with the Beothuk tribe of Newfoundland. The Beothuks – meaning people – painted their bodies and clothing with red ochre paint as they considered it not only a sacred colour but also a useful insect repellant. Neighboring tribes called them ‘the Red People’ and the Europeans changed this to ‘Red Indians’.


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