What Does Wasichu Mean?
Wasichu is a Lakota word, meaning taker for the fat or greedy one. Pronounced as wha-see-chew. However, to truly understand how this tag got attached to "White People", let us take a moment and review some history.
The Indigenous People of America, pre-Columbus, will profess to being peaceful people. This did not mean they never warred, for there are many stories that speak of conflicts among the tribal nations, but they warred with honor and often with little bloodshed. There is even one story of two northern tribes who were battling for hunting grounds and they ended the battle by exchanging tribal shirts and all went home as braves and with great honor. There were times of horrific battles, but those were desperate times of survival when food was thin. But during this pre-Columbus time, the tribes worked as a unit and no one was left homeless or without food. What belonged to any one man, belonged to the tribe.
In most of the tribal ways, the way of living was to be good stewards to the earth and to understand the way of the spirit, all that is Wakan...sacred. Riches were not a thing of glory, unlike the invading Europeans. The Natives believed they were wealthy when there were plenty of game for clothing and filling the belly. Though there was plenty of gold in " them there hills", the People believed it was sacred and special, but not to be exploited for power.
When the Conquistador first invaded the Americas in their pursuit for gold and other riches, followed by Columbus hitting the Eastern shores and claiming the New World in the name of the Spanish Queen, the Natives of this continent met up with people whose mindset was different than their own. When the Sioux People were first corralled into small tracks of land they soon discovered the European mindset was about greed. These new invaders took what land and pillaging what goods they needed and then some, all in the name of God and without any concern to the humans belonging to the land of milk and honey. This is when the Natives began to dubbed the White folks as "Wasichu", takers of the fat!
Now understand I am not saying the Native Indians were always innocent of crimes, but when you are backed into a corner and your people are starving and dying and losing their faith in the spirit world and the Creator, you will come out fighting for your beliefs. No matter what part of the world you come from, this statement is true of any kind of Peoples. As time progressed forward and the New America began to assimilate what tribal people who survived, the Native Indians began to understand that not all "white people" were bad and destructive of life. Soon they saw it was the government and people of power who were truly the greedy ones.
Through this assimilation of the Indian People into the "civilized" and "colonized" world, many tribal structures and beliefs were damaged. Families were torn apart against their will and forbidden to speak their language or practice what was sacred. As generations went by, many Native Peoples gathered chips upon their shoulders from the devastation of their tribal nations. For a long time, the Natives never trusted any white man and that mistrust today stills exist, stemming from the destruction of the past. However, through those years, many dialogues have occurred and many stories of truth were revealed. Soon, many of the new Americans learned of the government's deceitful deeds as well and now are feeling some of the pain in their own backyards.
Since those chips on the shoulders still exist today, Wasichu is still a name they call many of the White People, however this taker of the fat title is now broader in its scope of who qualifies. As we non Native Americans of today begin to recognized how our own rights are being compromised, we are beginning to form resistance groups such as Occupy. Our society today still exploits riches and power, teaching our children that success in life all hinges on money and not spirit or humankind. Even some of the Indian People have been persuaded by wealth to sell out their tribes and traditional Natives will call those traitors Wasichu.
The Government and big corporations are on the top of the list of Wasichus! As simple human rights are being eroded by the powers that be, the downtrodden are gathering together and coming out of those corners they have been back into and fighting for justice. So think about it. Do you take just enough to satisfy the simplest of your needs and then share the bounty with others or are you a Wasichu?
Dave on March 01, 2019:
well maybe Chief Bill Gates of the Windows Tribe would be so nice as to donate $13 Billion Dollars to American Tribes to split up and build Schools , Factories , Homes and Communities ? Create Jobs and new Towns ? Compete with the Chinese with American Indian products ? Why not ? The past is gone ; we must move forward … tell big Chief Bill Gates the people will work :-) if given a chance to
backporchstories (author) from Kentucky on May 15, 2014:
Thank you Beth! I used to be married to a Lakota....and yes....the word sum it all up!
Beth Perry from Tennesee on May 14, 2014:
Oh my gosh, my husband often uses "Wasichu" when talking about ignorant and greedy people! He is Cherokee/Santee but he says that word sums up his feelings better than most. Thanks for posting, very interesting! I am going to vote up for the historical info.