The first people who lived on the northern plains of what today is the United States called themselves “Lakotah,” meaning “the allies,” a word which provides the semantic basis for Dakotah. The first European people to meet the Lakotah called them “Sioux,” a contraction of Nadowessioux, a now-archaic French-Canadian word meaning “snake” or enemy.
The Lakotah also used the metaphor to describe the newcomers. It was Wasi’chu, which means “takes the fat,” or “greedy person.” Within the modern Indian movement, Wasi’chu has come to mean those corporations and individuals, with their governmental accomplices, which continue to covet Indian lives, land, and resources for private profit.
Wasi’chu does not describe a race; it describes a state of mind.
Wasi’chu is also a human condition based on inhumanity, racism, and exploitation. It is a sickness, a seemingly incurable and contagious disease which begot the ever advancing society of the West. If we do not control it, this disease will surely be the basis for what may be the last of the continuing wars against the Native American people.
…excerpt from Wasi’chu, The Continuing Indian Wars,
Bruce Johansen and Robert Maestas
with an introduction by John Redhouse