The following is taken from an interview between me and my friend, Javier, who is from Nicaragua. We were sitting in the lobby of the Caruso Catholic Center. He decided to tell me about a certain Spanish saying.
Javier: “Yeah, so this other saying is called, ‘Indio comido, puedo al camino,’ which translates to… ‘Eaten (laughs) Indian, walking Indian.'”
Me: (laughs) “Wait, sorry, repeat that?”
Javier: “So, um, ‘Indio comido, puedo al camino,’ which means, ‘Eaten Indian, walking Indian.’
Me: “Indian? Like, Native American?”
Javier: “Uh… (laughs) yes.”
Me: (laughs) “Okay, do you know what that’s supposed to mean?”
Javier: “Yeah, it just means that, um, like, like after, like, uh, a worker, like, on the fields or… a farm worker, as soon as, like, they’re, like, finished, like, their meal, like, let’s say lunch or so, like they’re ready to go back to work. Like, as soon as they finish eating, then they can go to work.”
Me: “Oh, okay, cool, so, like, the ‘Indian’ in the phrase is, like, the worker?”
Javier: “Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So, back home, in Nicaragua, it isn’t like Native American Indians but, like, people who, like, live, like, in the… like, in the fields or like… not in the suburbs… or… like, naan fields and stuff. Like, they are called Indians, too. That’s, like, how we translate that.”
Me: “Gotchya. Um, who first told you that one?”
Javier: “Uh, probably my dad. Or, actually my grandpa probably. He–he, like, he has this, um, huge, like… coffee crops. So, he works with a lot of, like, these people. These are, like, mainly the people who work for, like, farms and so. So, yeah.”
It was very interesting to me that the word “Indian” became the term in Nicaragua to define farm workers. I’m not sure where this translated from, or even if it had any connection to Native Americans or people living in India. It doesn’t seem like anyone considers it to be derogatory in this context, so the origins are a mystery to me.