Native American "Indians" in Idaho want all placenames containing "squaw" changed. They say it originally meant "whore" or "a vulgar term for the female vagina." What say ye?
It meant something akin to "woman" in the Massachuset language but Europeans abused the term, proably first into something more like "wife" and then, offensively, "mistress" ("girlfriend" or "lover") or "whore" and then on to the genatalia. The disparaging sense is American Enlgish slang, squa (or ussqua) is not perjorative.
Lewis Joplin II
SQUAW -- "An Algonquian word meaning 'woman' that is recorded in the East as early as 1634, long before the West was settled by whites." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

And another source: "The word squaw is now used by tribes all over the United States to mean a woman; the word was from the Narraganset 'eskwaw,' the Deleware,'ochqueu,' the Chippewa 'ikwe.'" From the "Dictionary of the American Indian: An A-to-Z guide to Indian history, legend and lore" by John Stoutenburgh, Jr. (Wing Books, Avenel, N.J., 1990 edition).

I didn't quite follow what Mr. Stoutenburgh was saying past the "eskwaw" part. But neither of these sources say anything about "whore."

Lewis Joplin II
"squaw,1634, Massachuset 'squa,' 'ussqua,' woman, although not necessarily a married one; the colonists then came to use it to mean an Indian wife. White settlers carried the word 'squaw' west where Plains Indians viewed it as a white man's word and found it objectionable, as Native Americans do today." From "Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley" by Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne H. Soukhanov (Oxford University Press, New York, 1997).
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