Cultural misunderstandings often lead to stereotypes. The phrase “Indian giver” is a perfect example of that. This slang term for someone that renegs on a gift by asking for its return after giving it is rooted in stories from early Dutch traders who came to the new world as traders and businessmen. Knowing there was a demand for land in the new world the Dutch purchased tracts of land from American Indian tribes, then returned home to Holland to resell them. When the new owners appeared in the new world demanding the land that they had purchased in Holland, the natives, who had not made the deals with the new landowners and did not understand that the land rights had been transferred, refused to recognize their rights. And so the term “Indian giver” was born.
But American Indian people were and are generous, and continue the longstanding tradition of potlatch or giveaway to this day. Natives measure their wealth not by what they have, but by how much they give away.
We would like to thank our tribal supporters for their support for American Indian student scholarships and the tribal colleges. Through their support, they are disproving an old untruth about Indian people while helping to create opportunities and a better future for their people.