Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
What is it about morning talk shows that people think they can let their guard down? And, why do they think American Indians are fair game?
Matt Lauer During Olympic Coverage
Last November, Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian's mother, told ABC's "Good Morning America" she feels Kris Humphries has no right to ask for the $2 million 20.5 carat diamond ring back that he gave her daughter as an engagement ring. The marriage fell apart after only 72 days and she wanted the ring to stay in the family.
"I hate an Indian giver," she said told Good Morning America.
Then yesterday morning, NBC's "TODAY" host Matt Lauer during coverage of the 2012 London Olympics told his ex co-anchor Meredith Vieira "don't be an Indian giver."
This ill-advised term came after Vieira passed a pair of designer underwear to Lauer.
"We're used to this. For five years, Meredith came to the show every morning carrying her underpants."
then Vieira asked Lauer for the underpants back.
"No, no, no, they're mine - don't be an Indian giver!"
How old are these folks?
Who wants to hear about underwear on the TODAY show anyway? Save a Fruit of the Looms, Victoria's Secret, or Hanes factory or outlet store, talking about underpants would get most people in trouble in most places of employment across the United States.
It used to be morning network talk shows were informative and news worthy programs. Now, they are more like goofy chatter programs that can actually be quite annoying so early in the morning.
Beyond the inappropriate underpants talk, Lauer needs to be called out on the "Indian giver" term. He used it way too flippantly, as if it is part of what is acceptable.
American Indians find the term "Indian giver" highly offensive and insensitive. Given all that has been lost by our tribal nations through bloody wars; genocide perpetrated against our ancestors; Native children removal from homes to be put into boarding schools, it is intolerable that a highly paid, highly recognized figure such as Lauer would be so callous and disrespectful.
Similar to the vast majority of American Indian arguments in opposition to the usage of Indian mascots or caricatures in sports, the term "Indian giver" is demeaning. It does not serve to honor American Indians well. Furthermore, similar to mascot usage, other ethnic groups would not tolerate inappropriate usage.
Last November when Ms. Jenner inappropriately used the "Indian giver" term, this publication wrote:
“Our discontent is not so much about political correctness, but rather right and wrong. The usage of the term "Indian giver"goes way beyond political correctness. It is just plain wrong to use the term in a 2011 America.”
Well, now it is 2012 and still wrong.
“It's noteworthy that 2012 also marks the 100th anniversary of one of the more memorable Olympic moments when Jim Thorpe, a Native American considered the best athlete of the 20th Century and an All-American hero, was called the "Greatest Athlete in the World" by the King of Sweden. This happened when the King of Sweden gave Thorpe of the Sac and Fox Nation, his gold medals for placing first in game's pentathlon and decathlon competitions. Since 1912, no other athlete has accomplished this feat,”
stated Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, in a released statement on Matt Lauer's use of the phrase "Indian Giver."
“Matt Lauer can still have his great Olympic moment and exhibit true Olympic spirit by educating NBC's global audience about the important place of Native Americans in society and sports. Like so many athletes are doing every day in London, we hope he rises to the moment,”
In these Olympic games, triple jump champion Voula Papachristou was sent home for making offensive comments on African immigrants through tweets. Lauer's comments were much more public.
To her credit, Ms. Jenner apologized after she discovered the term to be offensive. Mr. Lauer owes this nation's first people the same.
Morning talk shows should realize American Indians are not fair game and we do have buying power!
posted August 7, 2012 9:20 am edt