Rethink your vocab!

With the Indigenous Games well under way in Brazil, we felt this would be a great time to discuss our vocabulary. We took this opportunity to speak with Survival International, an organization that advocates on behalf of tribal peoples.

They’ve recently launched a campaign called Stamp it Out, aimed at challenging language that has, for centuries, belittled tribal people and portrayed them as somehow being in a transitional state towards inevitably joining industrialized societies.

These ideas are imbued in words such as ‘primitive’ and ‘stone age’.

“Primitive is one of the words that people use in the media,” said Kayla Wieche, a spokeswoman for Survival International.

“It’s an example of racism against tribal people,” she added “that somehow industrialized societies are further along than tribal people – that’s what the word ‘primitive’ really conveys.”

And of course, if a society is deemed to be “primitive” or “stone age”, it’s not a far leap for some to decide that industrialized societies know what’s best for them.

Wieche said the word was recently sprinkled liberally throughout a book review featured in the Wall Street Journal.

“It was really shocking to see that sort of racism in a major US newspaper.”

Survival International is urging allies to send e-cards to those who seriously need to rethink their vernacular.

The organization has followed up this campaign with a similar one aimed at India, where such words are freely used without a second thought. The campaign is named “Proud, not primitive”.

What other words do you think we should strike from our lexicon? Leave a comment below!