SPIRIT OF INTENT
Why is the word “squaw” so offensive today?
First of all, it is believed by many that it is not any Indigenous word from any of the people that occupied the American soil, in other words it is not an Indian word. It was more than likely a word created by European colonists, before it became the United States of America, who could not pronounce the native Algonquian word for 'woman.' In the Algonquian native languages, the word for woman includes a “SKW” sound to it. It would only be a guess as to where the Europeans originally tried to use their pidgin, (European-Cree), translated word, “squaw” to refer to a native woman. Be it a woman at first, or next a prostitute, or an angina later on!
Since that time, the word has been used to demean women in general, also used as a racist and sexually abusive way, and so it definitely has those derogatory meaning attached to the word then and now days. Just as there are words used in our vocabulary to demean other races and religious group of people, and you know those words, so I don’t have to spell them out for you.
Among my people the word for a woman is ‘Isdza’n’ and so the word ‘squaw’ should not even be found in your conversation with Native Americans, especially with an Apache. Nor should it be found in literature that are written today in describing a Native American woman. So with that said, the word “squaw” should have been retired from public useage long ago and have vanished from usage in todays vocabualry.
And remember, if someone uses it around you in a conversation, tell them politely that it is not even an Indian word and no Indians ever uses it among themselves or in conversation with a non-Indian.