Talk:go off the reservation

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This idiom originates from the years of US military colonization of western North America. It was used to distinguish between "good Indians" (those who stayed on the reservations, i.e. confined to the camps controlled by the military) and "bad Indians" (renegade Native Americans who refused to be interned in the camps and who did not subject themselves to the authority of US military rule).

For that reason, this term may be considered offensive by/to Native Americans. Austinmayor 15:04, 14 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]

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go off the reservation[edit]

Both a reader who emailed OTRS and a commenter on the talk page of this article have expressed the opinion that this word may etymologically derive from when Indians in the United States were legally and physically confined to reservations and could be arrested for leaving, rather than, as the current etymology suggests, Indians who freely leave the reservation in more modern times to do something not allowed on the reservation. It would be nice if a citation could be found to clear up the etymology; I have also invited the reader to participate in this discussion. Dmcdevit·t 03:06, 6 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

The anon-added etymology is dubious on its face and IMO doesn't merit RFV. Whether this phrase originally pertained specifically to the legal implications of leaving the reservation I don't know; there doesn't seem to be any obvious support for that in early usage. Given that this first appears in the mid-20th century, an origin in cowboys-and-Indians films (or radio) seems more likely. But absent clear substantiation, a link to a relevant pedia article on US Indian policy is as far as I would care to go. -- Visviva 05:17, 6 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
The addition to the etymology was completely ahistorical and unsupported. I have added a literal, historical sense with a quote from 1872. DCDuring TALK 06:07, 6 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Much better IMO, thanks. Hadn't thought of the Geronimo connection -- seems very likely that's how this phrase entered the popular lexicon. -- Visviva 06:15, 6 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

This action by DCDuring (talkcontribs) since the RFV started is a good improvement. Cirt (talk) 07:19, 7 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Striking. All concerns seem to have been addressed; thanks, everyone who put work into this. —RuakhTALK 14:29, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
[reply]

interesting NPR article that discusses this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/06/29/326690947/should-saying-someone-is-off-the-reservation-be-off-limits