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Indian, Indians, and American Indians

Andy RooneyWhen we use the word "Indian," it can mean one of two things, which is unnecessarily confusing. I don't know how we got into calling two absolutely different people from two different continents by the same name. I don't think there is a relationship between an Indian born in New Delhi, India, and an American Indian born in North America.

Recently, I came across two big stories in the paper, one about American Indians and the other about Indian Indians. It seems that the Obama administration has come to an agreement with more than 300,000 American Indians to settle a long-standing class action lawsuit against the federal government.

The dispute centered around mismanagement of Indian land trusts that date back to the 1880s. The suit involves 56 million acres of Indian land that was leased to various oil, gas and logging companies. The suit, filed on behalf of the thousands of Indian plaintiffs, claims that the Indians were not fairly compensated for use of their land by these businesses.

The settlement between the federal government and the American Indians was announced on Tuesday but must still be approved by Congress and the U.S. District Court. The Interior Department will distribute $1.4 billion among the plaintiffs.

The other story, about Indians from India, centers around the huge global warming issue now being debated at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Just before the conference, the Indian government announced it would cut the country's carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade. I'm not sure I know or understand fully what a carbon emission is, but I do know that India has a population of more than a billion people and I think that cutting pollution there would have quite a positive impact on the environment.

I spent some time in New Delhi, India's capitol, during World War II, and I loved the food, but I didn't care much for the city. I'm glad the Indians like it but I found it quite hot and crowded. I never went back to India. I much prefer places where they have at least a few months of good, solid, bone-chilling cold. I don't think it snows much in New Delhi.

In all my years, I have lived in Rowayton, Conn.; New York City, London, Frankfurt, Germany, Pilot Knob, N.Y. (on Lake George); and Albany, N.Y. I liked all those places and always go back to see the house I lived in when I'm in these areas.

Of all the places I've lived, I like New York, London and my house in Connecticut best. Incidentally, "Connecticut" comes from an Indian word meaning "beside the long tidal river."

The Indians were there first.

(Write to Andy Rooney at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207, or via email at aarooney5@yahoo.com)

(c) 2009 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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