Where go the hatchet Indian giver come from and how walk it progression over the years? From beforehand references to lyrics and playground jabs, discover it here.

You are watching: Origin of the term indian giver

To many of us, together phrases as “Teacher, Billy gave me the ball, currently he wants it back! He’s gift an Indian giver!” room too frequently heard in school. However where did the hatchet come from? The literal history of where the word originates is a bit murky, however perhaps this article can shed a some light on some pre-conceived notions.

First, some modern-day definitions. Merriam-Webster’s defines an Indian giver as “sometimes offensive: a human who gives something to another and also then takes it ago or expects an indistinguishable in return.” The urban Dictionary specifies the term as “a person, who gives someone something, then wants it back!”

The original ide of the terms “Indian gift” or one “Indian giver” are stated in cutting board Hutchinson’s 1765 publishing History of the province of Massachusetts Bay. In the book, Hutchinson defined an Indian gift together something “for which an identical return is expected.”

another such referral to the ide of Indian bartering or gift offering is in thomas P. Slaughter’s publication on the travel of Lewis and also Clark in 1804. The book, licensed has been granted Exploring Lewis and Clark: reflections on Men and Wilderness, Slaughter writes the complying with passage and describes Lewis and Clarks reaction when managing Indians native the Wahkiacum village.

“… this last started by providing us part roots; yet as we had now learned the they always expect 3 or 4 times as much in return together the genuine value the the articles, and are even dissatisfied v that, we decreased such danger presents.”

when Lewis and Clark later on in the passage also traded v the Shoshone Indians that they believed were much more agreeable, they climate labeled the Wahkiacums “intrusive, thievish and impertinent.”

The journals of the Lewis and Clark expeditions set a tone because that the thievish identity of Indians and also the impacts were long lasting. By 1848, the expression “Indian giver” had made its way into the vernacular the non-Indians so lot that it made its means into linguist man Russell Bartlett’s dictionary of Americanisms.

The entry on page 214 that the 1848 publication says:

“INDIAN GIVER: once an Indian gives any thing (sic), the expects to receive an equivalent, or to have actually his gift returned. This ax is used by youngsters to a child who, ~ having provided away a thing, desire to have actually it ago again.”

In 1969, the popular music team 1910 Fruitgum agency and nation artist i get it Miller both coincidentally released songs entitled “Indian Giver.” The 1910 Fruitgum Company’s tune went on come No. 5 on The Billboard warm 100 in 1969 and also was on the charts for 13 weeks.

although the term largely faded from tendency media usage it kept popularity on institution playgrounds. Indian giver acquired a significant mainstream plug when Kris zener told good Morning America the her ex son-in-law have to not ask because that his $2 million engagement ring back from Kim Kardashian.

jenner told GMA, she “…hates one Indian-giver” and also that her daughter should have been able to save the gift. The backlash against Jenner’s usage of the term was seen roughly the world and she later issued one apology.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian’s mom ‘Hates one Indian Giver’

The term could just as easily have come indigenous the truth that white settlers and the government designated land for the Indians and then took it earlier after it was discovered to it is in valuable. Favor the black Hills, i m sorry were given to the Oglala Lakota then were taken back after gold to be discovered.

Considering there is merit come this claim, that is no necessarily proven in print and thus should remain a strong speculation.

See more: How Far From Vegas To Los Angeles, Distance From Las Vegas, Nv To Los Angeles, Ca

In solution to whether or not the ax “Indian giver” is agree or con Indian, probably the emotion expressed on words Detective website by Evan Morris is a an useful assertion.

“While it’s true the the europe settlers had actually a much worse reputation once it came to trustworthiness than the indians did, the victors in history usually gain to make up the idioms, for this reason it’s cynical that ‘Indian giver’ refers to the manner in which the inhabitants treated the Indians. It would certainly be quite a stretch to credit 19th century European inhabitants with the honesty to have actually recognized the they, and also not the Indians, were the ‘Indian givers’ in many cases.”


Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the combine editor and an elderly correspondent at Indian nation Today that enjoys creating media, technology, comics, and movies. That is a film critic and writes the #NativeNerd column. Twitter