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Fourth, and most crucially of all, however, Ohio Leaguers never called themselves “Mingos.” It is wildly inappropriate to slap disingenuous names on Native peoples, then refuse to correct them later on the theory that they have become an “accustomed usage.” As Susan Miller of the Native American Studies Program at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln noted in 1996, the so called “Mingos” were really League Wyandots, Senecas, Cayugas, and so forth–all perfectly good and correct names–and that for historians to insist upon using their “outsiders’ labels” was “a violation of simple etiquette that historians would not allow in other contexts. Imagine introducing two colleagues at a reception: ‘Lydia, have you met Charles?’ If Lydia should respond, ‘How do you do, Chickenlips?’ there would be consequences.”
“Chickenlips” just about captures the emotional impact of “Mingo,” too.
Contrary to Daniel Richter’s rather blithe assertion that “Mingo,” Menkwes, and Maqua (Mohawk) “can only be translated roughly as ‘Iroquoian-speakers,’” the term “Mingo” can only be translated precisely as “the sneaky people.” Mengwe or Menkwes was a slur coined by enemies of the League, to wit, the tiny, disaffected minority of the Ohio Delaware-Mahicans that had converted to the Moravian sect of the Christian religion in the mid-eighteenth century. Hostile settlers picked up the term “Mingo” from the writings of Moravian missionary John Heckewelder…
In other words,“Mingo” is and always was a deliberate insult. Heckewelder knew it; his contemporaries knew it, and League historian Paul A.W. Wallace documented as much in 1958, leaving latter-day scholars very little excuse for its continued use. 12 Historian Michael McConnell’s rationalization of the use of “Mingow” because it was a Native term smacks of sophistry. 13 Would he be equally open, I wonder, to my discovering the Gaelic for “sneaky s.o.b.” and then, on the grounds that it was a real live Celtic term, using it to name the Irish? How is it that slurs, so completely disavowed when other groups are at issue, remain acceptable lingo for indicating Native Americans? I submit that historians’ insistence upon referring to the Haudenosaunee of Ohio as “Mingos” is on an absolute par with their writing histories of Europe in which they consistently refer to the Jews as “the sneaky people.”
Just one more example of how inappropriate this pattern is. I didn’t include that for length, but she followed that with some commentary on “Huron”, which you can read through the link.
Cartier’s sailors did not invent the word’s use as a slur. Huron had been a term of derision that the aristocracy had been flinging at the French peasantry since at least 1358.
And, like “Sioux”, these are still generally treated as acceptable “neutral” names, in spite of what the people affected keep saying about it. There are so many other examples, and it’s all very disrespectful.