When And Why "Savage" Can Be An Offensive Term
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

When And Why "Savage" Can Be An Offensive Term

A quick history of the word "savage".

When And Why "Savage" Can Be An Offensive Term

“That’s so savage,” my cousin had said to me when we’d been visiting our family this past weekend. I hadn’t heard the phrase in a while, but I’d decided that I was going to start using it ironically again, so for the rest of the trip, I called everything that I was impressed with “savage”.

My brother lights an illegal firework that makes a loud bang and some cool colors? Savage. My mom takes a pull of vodka for five seconds longer than my cousin? Also savage. My grandmother says a sassy and witty insult that stuns my brother? Totally savage. I turn to my cousin and loudly state, “Grandma is savage.”

She lightly gasps, so my cousins and I both freeze. After a moment of silence, she aggressively replies, “I don’t know what you guys are talking about, but I don’t want any part of it! You guys keep it to yourself!” and with that she storms out of the room, leaving the two of us stunned.

We were unsure of what had set her off. That is until my cousin reminds me that we are of Native American descent, and that long ago, our ancestors were considered savage by European settlers who came to the United States. Thus, the stereotype that my grandmother’s people are savages has also survived.

According to this web page, “when the early colonists needed” the help of Native Americans “to stay alive or help fight a war, the Indians were thought of as brave and noble savages, [but] when the Indians got in the way and threatened the White Man's plans, they became animalistic and bloodthirsty savages.”

When this happened, the colonists began to try and “tame” America’s indigenous people. In trying to do this, they practiced horrific procedures to assimilate them into society. Besides cutting their hair, forcing them to go to school, and moving them into tiny reservations, the Europeans also made them dependent “upon the modern tools brought by the Europeans,” so that they couldn’t return to their own authentic culture.

They even massacred some tribal members because they considered the Natives obstacles to the Manifest Destiny agenda of expanding European presence in America.

All of these events transpired because the immigrants perceived the Native Americans as barbaric savages. That word, savage, has more historical context than we could ever imagine. I’m not suggesting that we eradicate it from our vocabulary, but I am saying that if anybody does still use that word, we should be cautious who we use it around because it might evoke a deep history that is sensitive to some.

I’ve since apologized to my grandmother and have made a self-declaration that I would quit using the word. If it ever happens to slip out again, I am going to make damn sure that it’s not around my beautiful grandmother.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

For Young Players Who Want to Succeed at The Next Level

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

Whose choice is it? The parent? The player? There are a number of reasons that a kid may sit out of high school soccer, and to be completely honest; It is a huge mistake. High school soccer is the final piece in the puzzle that takes a player from above average or elite, to college ready by the end of their senior year. Every year thousands of talented athletes don't play for their high schools. Why though?

Keep Reading... Show less

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

December is around the corner, are you ready?

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

As they tend to say, its the most wonderful time of the year! People have begun to compile their Christmas to-do lists in anticipation for the season of sugarplums and gingerbread.

The history of the Christmas to-do lists goes back hundreds of years, almost as old as the holiday itself, however, people tend to fall out of this habit as they get older. This is unfortunate, as the theme of Christmas tradition can add bundles of the spirit of joy to your families.

Keep Reading... Show less

Fall Weather Must-Haves

Put away the swim suits and your favorite high-waisted shorts!


The transitional months of fall can cause some fashion headaches as you try to figure out what clothing to keep in your closet. With limited amount of college living space and the ever-unpredictable Nebraska weather, sometimes it’s difficult to know what should be taking up that precious closet space as you transition into winter. As you pack away those tanks and shorts for the chilly months ahead, get your closet ready with a few Fall must-haves. 

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Take a look at the articles driving big conversations on Odyssey.


At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Holidays With A Small Family

I wouldn't trade what we have for the world.

Matt Johnsn

When I was a kid I always went to my grandparents house whenever we celebrated any sort of holiday. We were a decently sized family and it was always a blessing to be in their house and surrounded by love during the holiday season. However, that all changed when my grandfather passed away and my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The family then began to drift apart and life went on, and we ended up all celebrating our own holidays with other family members.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments