The internet is doing what the internet does best today in epic fashion. A well meaning editor of a major magazine decided she would seek some social justice and remind all of the war mongers in the Trump administration of their cultural insensitivity regarding Native Americas, who, she tweeted, were offended by the use of “Tomahawk” missiles.
Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, tweeted about the horrific cultural appropriation enacted by the profiteers who produce Tomahawk missiles like this: “That the missiles are called tomahawks must enrage a lot of Native Americans.”
That the missiles are callled tomahawks must enrage a lot of Native Americans
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) April 8, 2017
General Dynamics, Raytheon, McDonnel Douglas…. Shame on you.
Tomahawk is an anglicized version of the Powhatan word tamahaac. Though there are are eight distinct tribal identities associated with the historical Powhatan tribe, there are very few who claim the cultural heritage today. 3,500 are registered with the state of Virginia, and there may be as many as 20 more who identify as Powhatan, but almost none speak any version of the dialect of the Algonquin language.
That’s your nickle tour of the etymology, and a good defense for why so few Native Americans have much to say about the issue. Some Native Americans, like the one currently typing this article, find it far more offensive that the editor of Mother Jones assumes that all of the culturally unique groups of Native Americans used tomahawks.
Other Americans (many of whom were not from the Native variety), thought highly enough of Jeffery’s tweet that they responded with tweets of their own.
@ClaraJeffery Yes — just like my grandpa Tom was enraged by the Tommy guns used during prohibition.
— Steak Twittee (@Knowk_Omment) April 9, 2017
Tommies everywhere are offended, as are typwriters made in Chicago.
@ClaraJeffery I don't think many Native Americans are snowflakes.
— jshay9178 (@jshay9178) April 8, 2017
I’m not sure of this, but it sounds reasonable.
@ClaraJeffery This Tweet is exactly why Trump won. 😂😂😂😂
— 82ndVet (@82ndVet) April 8, 2017
I’m 100% sure of this.
@ClaraJeffery Did you talk to ANY Native Americans before this tweet? Second question, do you know ANY Native Americans?
— Wingo is a Jedi name (@mikepinkshoes) April 8, 2017
She may have seen one at a casino once, in Oklahoma. And she’s seen Dances With Wolves. That counts, right?
@ClaraJeffery Real journalists must be enraged that you call yourself one of them.
— Aussie_in_America (@AussieAmerican2) April 8, 2017
Even the Australians are upset for the unupset Natives.
@ClaraJeffery The war tomahawk was actually a British invention.
— Sean Gallagher 📦🐭 (@thepacketrat) April 8, 2017
Not all of the tweeters are right, exactly. This statement is positively ludicrous. Unless you define “war” as dudes dressing up in red coats and marching in straight lines. The Native Americans didn’t do that. But no one knows who first whacked whom with a rock on a stick. That’s been lost to history.
@ClaraJeffery Apache attack helicopter
Black Hawk utility helicopter
Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopter
Tomahawk cruise missile
— Political Line (@PoliticalLine) April 8, 2017
Looks like the Natives, all of whom are Apache, Sauk, Chinook and Powhatan have a lot to worry about.
@ClaraJeffery Probably just Elizabeth Warren.
— David A (@rcno13) April 8, 2017
Ouch. Warren. Didn’t she offend some Native Americans by claiming she was a Native American, even though she wasn’t?
There’s a lesson here for Jeffery. She’ll learn it. Or maybe not. The internet hopes she doesn’t learn the lesson, if only for the comedy that follows in Jeffery’s wake.