NPR's "native" = (partly?) ancestral

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Jul 18 01:09:20 UTC 2007

James Harbeck wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>
> Subject:      Re: NPR's "native" = (partly?) ancestral
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>   I'd ignore this as mere lazy thinking except that it so clearly
>> ties into the whole PC idea of "real" identity being genetically
>> determined. And minority ethnicity is always somehow "realer." Past
>> attempts to promote this assumption have been uniformly less
>> well-intended.
> This reminds me of one time when someone declared in a presentation
> to a group (of which I was a part) that Japan had an indigenous
> group, too (I say "too" because North American indigenous groups had
> been the topic up to then). I thought, "Well, yeah! The Japanese!"
> But apparently they aren't indigenous enough for him -- "indigenous"
> must mean minority, disadvantaged, underappreciated? He was talking
> about the Ainu, who are indigenous to Hokkaido and whose culture is
> somewhat different and certainly does deserve recognition. But,
> really, since when are the Japanese not indigenous to most of Japan?
> Do they really not count just because they're the dominant society?
> I'm not sure I like that trend of thought... Seems kind of fuzzy to
> me, too...
> James Harbeck.
As you note, the Ainu are indigenous to Hokkaido and northern Honshu.
The Japanese moved into those regions very slowly over hundreds of
years. The Ainu can therefore be referred to as 先住民 (senjuumin, prior
living people) in opposition to the Japanese, who have moved into the
former's territories. There is also the strong theory that the current
Yamato (Japanese) stock is a blend of peoples that resulted from ethnic
mingling probably from the aboriginal people in central and southern
Japan, and immigrants from Korea and China. The Japanese culture has
been around only for a bit less than 2000 years, so perhaps there is a
case, as with the English in England, to claim non-indigenous-ness.. BB

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