Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Today, my good friend and prolific author Marilyn Meredith explains why and when she prefers the term Indian to Native American.  

by Marilyn Meredith 

When I received the edits for River Spirits, I was nicely reminded that “Native American” is now the politically correct term to be used.

I do know that, but I also know that the Indians I’m writing about and the ones I know prefer to be called Indians. So in River Spirits I use Indians when they are talking about themselves. Non-Indians are the only ones who use “Native American.”

I can’t speak for native people in other places in the United States, but I’ve heard that many like to be called by their tribal association such as Navajo, Cherokee, etc. The Native Alaskans I met when I visited, preferred either Native or Eskimo.

Many of the Indians on the reservation I write about are a mix from other tribes, though most are related to the Yokuts—a name that is representative of many smaller tribes. These are the people who first inhabited the southern Central Valley of California.

In the interest of being respectful to the people of the Tule River Indian Reservation, the reservation name I’ve changed to the Bear Creek Indian  Reservation, I will continue to call the people who live there Indians.

And as an aside, though there is a resemblance between the real reservation and the one in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree books, the one I’m writing about is imaginary. My comment to some of the Indians who’ve said to me, “You’re the lady who writes about us” is “I’ve borrowed a lot from you, but I’m writing fiction.”

Blurb for River Spirits:

While filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground, threats are made against the female stars, a missing woman is found by the Hairy Man, an actor is murdered and Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.


Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest River Spirits from Mundania Press. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at and her blog at

Contest: The winner will be the person who comments on the most blog posts during the tour.

He or she can either have a character in my next book named after them, or choose an earlier book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series—either a paper book or e-book.

Tomorrow I’m visiting Carrie Padgett at

My topic: What most people don’t know about the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Holli, thank you so much for hosting me today. I miss seeing you and your family--but love following your activites and seeing photos on Facebook.

Holli Castillo said...

Thanks so much for joining me Marilyn. You are always a pleasure to host and a role model for other writers, especially those who have busy lives.

sue mcginty said...

Hi Marilyn, Glad to see you taking a stand for common sense.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Sue, I suspect the editor doesn't even know any Indians. Other than that, she did a good job. I not only know many, I have some in my family.

vicki batman said...

And wonderful that you have a good topic to write about. Good luck with your work.

Marja said...

Excellent post, Marilyn, and I'm glad you're so honest about it. You have the right idea about asking for a preference. Can't wait to read this one.
Marja McGraw

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Vicki, I always try to think up a new topic for each blog post when I'm on a tour. (Same with pics.)

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Marja, some of this political correct stuff wears me down. Thanks for stopping by!

Amy M. Reade said...

Hi, Marilyn,
Great post! I'm glad you did the right thing and respected the people who know the most about your subject matter. This book sounds really good!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Amy, thank you for your comment.

Janet Greger said...

I really like your topic. It's easy to use the wrong terminology. I think most natives in the Southwest like to be referred to by their tribes, but that's also tricky. Most tribes in NM have a Spanish given name and a local language name.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Janet, I agree, it is difficult to know exactly what name to use for any ethnic group--with Indians, always best to ask.

Marti Colvin said...

This is an interesting topic, for sure. Too much political correctness going around these days. I have an Indian as a main character in my books, and took the opportunity to ask a tribal member what they prefer to be called these days: Indian, Native American, Aboriginal People, First People, .... what? He laughed and said "We don't care. We call ourselves Indians, but we really don't care what anyone else calls us." Doesn't seem to be a sensitive subject for them. I suspect the objections to "Redskins" is much the same, much to-do about nothing. Thanks for an interesting blog.

Marti Colvin (I.C. Enger)
Blue ICE, Green ICE, (Black ICE soon)

Nancy LiPetri said...

I learn something every time I read one of Marilyn's posts. She sure is a role model for us!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Marti, thanks for your comment. I agree, people get too hung up on being "politically correct."

And Nancy--I tried really hard to come up with something new for each blog even when I was asked the same question again by another host. If you keep following, you'll see what I mean.