Report on the Word ‘Skraeling’ 8

This paper is to document the word ‘Skraeling’ as per its historical meaning(s) and current real world usage, and to assist Baronial Council in deciding if the Barony should change its name. This paper was prompted by commentary from Colyne Stewart (before he was part of the Council) during the term of Baroness Avelyn and Baron Dafyyd (2020).

The paper (PDF) (Word)

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8 thoughts on “Report on the Word ‘Skraeling’

  • Glenn Martin

    I think we don’t need to change our name for the following reasons.
    1) The historical use of the word “Skraeling” appears to be absent of any racial connotation in the modern sense but seems to be along the lines of designating people who “aren’t us” which seems to be a universal habit of just about every culture that has ever existed. At most it may be a reference to a hostile people whom the norse had a clash with: also a common feature of just about every culture that has ever existed.
    2) there appears to be no peception among indigenous organisations of “Skraeling” as being perjorative. I would suggest being proactive in maintaining contact with these organisations to head off any misunderstandings.
    3) our use of the term is used as a joke to describe parliament and is in no way meant to refer to actual indigenous people.
    We’ve got more to worry about white supremacists appropriating the norse and medieval history to promote some racist fantasy. We should be the cure by promoting the actual facts.

  • Henry Foster

    It would seem that there is no consensus that the word is inherently inappropriate, it *does* seem clear that it is used in a derogatory way to label people as ‘other’. This being the case, and with our collective desire to be open and welcoming to *eveyone*, I ask why we *wouldn’t* change the Baronial name? Is our attachment to it stronger than our desire to be inclusive? I expect, and hope, not.

  • Antonia di Benedetto Calvo

    My feeling is that if we have to work this hard to decide whether or not a word is offensive, it’s not a good choice of word, and we should start thinking seriously about a new name for our Barony.

  • Gina Cook

    If the members of our barony are willing to change our name, I will be behind them. Change is always difficult, but it is in our best interests.

    • TSivia bas Tamara v'Amberview

      My bad:

      Kahi’na is derived from the term “coney” fyi.
      Silfur Kahi’na: “silfur kahi’na” is silver rabbit (Pronounced Seelfur kaheena) Silfur Kahi’na Althing

      Vetur is winter, vetrar is wintery. (Pronounced Veetur kaheena) Vetur Kahi’na Althing.


  • Giovanni Orseolo (John Baatz)

    This is a very good report. I think it is clear that the work “Skraeling” was used to describe people who were outside of the group using the name. I think that it has failed to become a slur for natives by its obscurity. I don’t know if we are a big enough group to prevent it from becoming a slur by applying it to ourselves. I would not be upset if the barony decided to change its name however if we decide not to change the name we will have to remain vigilant that the name does not become a slur.

  • Marsha S McLean

    In our fraught times, when indeed hate groups are twisting Scandanavian culture, mythology, and language to their own ends, the SCA needs to be highly aware of such things, lest we be mistaken for, or infiltrated by hate groups.
    True or not, if we are perceived to be welcoming or sympathetic to hate groups, any participants who are subject to background checks for employment might find it problematic.
    Anyone here knowledgeable about such background checks? I’ve only had mid-level provincial, and those a while ago.
    In any case, I hope all are alarmed at the idea of appearing to support such groups. If changing a name safeguards against this, the name should be changed, IMHO.

  • TSivia bas Tamara v'Amberview

    I am as always, saddened that our name might be perceived as racist. I haven’t found any Indigenous person to this day who perceives it as such (including my Inuk/Oneida niece by Customary Adoption), but if it actually puts out a negative image, perhaps we require a change. As one of my sources indicates, the Inuit and Norse vilified each other with equal passion. But times change…..

    SHOULD we decide a renaming is called for, I spent a great deal of time talking with Dr. Jane Sibley (Mostress Arwen Evaine fetch Rhys ap Gwynnedd, OL, East), one of the experts I spoke to the last time we went through this process. I would suggest two possible options for consideration:

    “Vetur Kani’na” – Winter Hare
    “Hvi’t Kani’na” – White/Silver (honestly, we can’t avoid ALL REFERENCES to the colour of snow, must we?)

    Vetur Kani’na Althing (Winter Hare Althing)
    Hvi’t Kani’na Althing (Silver Hare Althing)

    Both options reference Bunny Fru Fru on our Baronial Arms. We MAY need someone with an Old Icelandic dictionary at hand as these terms may be a mix of Old and Modern (she didn’t have her Old Icelandic dictionary at hand).

    Just some suggestions from a very sad founder of the group.