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Red Indians don’t play Hockey17 August 2012 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
As a youngster I’d rather be a Red Indian than a cowboy. I believe they are called Native Americans nowadays but we couldn’t have known that. Actually, fifty per cent of American Indians prefer this term and thirty-seven per cent call themselves Native American.
Besides, couldn’t they have invented the term Native American a bit earlier, before they started killing them off, for example? Political correctness always emerges too late.
The fact that I preferred playing Red Indians to cowboys was clearly an indication of a lifelong love for the underdog. Hence at the Olympic Games I cheered loudly for Team GB during the men’s hockey semi-final between the Netherlands and Great Britain (final score: 9–2).
‘The Dutch have humiliated the British!’ rejoiced the Dutch sports reporters. But in the British Isles hockey is played mainly by girls. It’s mostly a girls’ game around the globe. ‘When this is taken into account the British boys haven’t played too badly,’ I muttered at home in front of the telly.
American Indians don’t play hockey either. You can picture an Indian basketball, baseball or American football team, but eleven Red Indians on a hockey pitch doesn’t wash.
American Indians have slowly moved out of the picture. You used to have films with ‘bad’ Indians, followed by films featuring ‘good’ Indians. But where have they gone? At most, Red Indians represent a longing for the ‘good old times’.
Yet I recently watched a documentary about Native Americans, and before you know it you are immersed in the Indian wars, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and the Navajo code talkers during the Second World War. Subsequently I spent hours studying maps showing the spread of the Native American population.
An American of mixed descent is no less an American, but you aren’t quite a proper Red Indian if both your father and mother aren’t Red Indians too. Besides, you cannot become a Red Indian.
I think very few children still play Red Indians and cowboys. Maybe we should begin introducing more American Indian names. If someone has a bad character, why not simply call him Bad Character? I do know a few people to whom I would like to say: ‘Hi, Bad Character!’
Well, Walks Like A Wild Boar, Misses With Arrows or Wild Onion Eating Deer aren’t jolly names, but one can’t deny that Indians display a bit of humour.
It’s summer and I’ve got nothing on my hands, so I began giving people proper Indian name tags. Michael Phelps won, among other medals, the 100m butterfly at the London Olympics. ‘Salmon Head Rising Above Water’s tally stands at eighteen Olympic gold medals.’
Every time I watch BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood on TV I mutter: ‘Hi, Rain Falls Through Roof.’ Why not think up a few yourselves? Boris Johnson: Cycles with Wild Hairdo or Merry Zip-Wire Dangler.
In the Netherlands the election campaigns have started. It would be wonderful if they announced a debate between Everyone’s Friend and Speaks With Forked Tongue.
I know of only one Dutch person who had a Red Indian name: Mary Servaes (1919–1998), aka Singer Without A Name. ‘Who’s she?’ we said at home.
Earlier this year a twenty-two-year-old Austrian wanted to change his name to Tomahawk, ‘in honour of the American Indians’. This request was rejected because the name refers to an inanimate object. In the past the Austrian authorities have also turned down names such as Rotkäppchen (Red Riding Hood) and Rainer Zufall (Pure Chance).
‘Good morning, my name is Rainer Zufall.’
‘Well, good morning Pure Chance, my name is Red Riding Hood.’
It’s over thirty degrees Celsius and I’m rushing to phone Butterfly Sitting on Buttercup. I’ll say something like: ‘Hello, it’s Made At New Year’s Eve.’ Or: ‘Sitting Bear In Shadow speaking, we couldn’t meet before because I was looking for the Red Indian in me.’
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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