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Wašíču is the Lakota and Dakota (known collectively as the Sioux) word for people of non-indigenous descent,[1] with derogatory connotations. It expresses the native population's perception of the non-natives' relationship with the land and the native population. Typically it refers to white people,[2] but does not specifically mention skin color or race. The term "black wasichu" has been historically used to describe a person of African descent, and a Native American who adopted non-native ways could "make himself over into a wasichu".[3]

Wasicun means "non-Indian".[1] The Lakota word for "taking the fat" (wašin icu)[2] is spelled and pronounced similarly, and it is used by natives in puns to refer to non-Natives who collectively rob tribes of their resources.[1]

In Dakota, Wašicu also means the English language.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Oglala Lakota leader Black Elk (1863–1950) used the term freely in his book Black Elk Speaks, referring to European-Americans who spoke dishonestly.

"Wasichu" is a fifth-season episode of the television series Law & Order: Criminal Intent, about a lobbyist and Indian gambling.[5]

Washichu is a rock band from New Orleans, Louisiana.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Setting the Record Straight About Native Languages: Wasichu. Native Languages of the Americas. (retrieved 23 January 2011)
  2. ^ a b Simcikova, 88
  3. ^ Staub 62
  4. ^ LaFontaine and McKay, 145
  5. ^ "Wasichu (#5.14)." Internet Movie Database. (retrieved 23 Jan 2011)
  6. ^ "New Orleans and Louisiana Bands and Performers." NOLA DIY. (retrieved 23 Jan 2011)