Jessamine County

Some disturbed by terms for dog

The terms used to describe a family pet that snatched a newborn infant from his crib are generating some discussion among Native Americans.

On Monday afternoon, the dog, which has been described as a "Native American Indian dog," took little Alexander James Smith from his crib at his family's home in Jessamine County and carried him outside. The baby suffered a cracked skull, cracked ribs and collapsed lungs and remained in serious condition at the University of Kentucky Hospital Saturday night.

Charles Huddleston of Sadieville, vice president of the Kentucky Native American Indian Council of the Bluegrass, said using the term "Native American Indian dog" is "demeaning" and "a slap in the face to all the Native American Indians anywhere."

"There is no such creature," he said. "There may be a Native American dog. When you add the word 'Indian' to it, that denotes a person. ... The dog itself would not be an Indian."

He said using the term to describe a dog gives people "a negative feeling as far as Native American Indians."

"People have been treated like dogs," he said.

The description of the dog had already generated controversy.

Michael Smith, A.J.'s father, has described the pet, Dakota, as a "Native American Indian" breed and said the dog's grandparents were "90 percent wolf."

Internet searches produce numerous references to "Native American Indian dogs," but their status is murky. The American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club do not recognize the breed.

Helen Danser of Tyner, who chairs the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, said she took the term "Native American Indian dog" as "descriptors of the fact that that would be a dog that a Native American Indian would have."

She said she had spent the past few days at a Piqua Shawnee tribe ceremony near her home, and the people who attended that gathering talked about the incident, but not the terminology related to the dog.

"I was just more concerned about what happened with the child," she said.

While Danser said she was "not offended," by the use of the term "Native American Indian dog," she could understand how others might be.

Mike Presnell of Louisville, who serves as vice chairman of the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, agreed.

"A lot of the Native Americans are sensitive to the word Indian in general," he said. "I would think it would have a negative impact on a lot of people of Native American descent. A lot of the people are sensitive from a long history of mistreatment."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader