What is the origin of the phrase Indian giver?
It is an old and very racist term that should never have been used at the time, and definitely should not be used today.
When European-ancestry settlers began to move into the American West and encountered native residents. Some of the white settlers claimed that when they took gifts from the natives, the natives later wanted them back, so the derogatory term "indian giver" arose to describe someone who provides you with something and then tries to reclaim it.
......... One of the reasons this started is because it is/was Native American custom that when a gift was given, a gift of similar value was to be given back. If it could not be given back, the original gift was expected to be returned. Europeans could not grasp this so the belittled the Native Americans. What we do not understand, we make fun of. Also, it was and still known among Native Americans, that a gift given it is given. No Strings attached to the gift given Early Americans of EU descendants always thought the Native Americans were very dumb or very stupid. So when a barter was negotiated and the EU descendant wanted to back out of an agreed trade, they would say and use the term it was a Indian giver deal.
In reality the term Indian giver didn't begin until a while after the US kept moving the Native Americans to reservations. When someone says Indian giver they aren't making racist remarks to Indians. If you analyze the phrase an Indian giver is someone who GIVES TO INDIANS it does not mean an Indian that gives to others. If you are an Indian giver YOU GIVE to Indians. Now this isn't the actual meaning but only…
An 'Indian giver' is the American slang expression for someone who asks you to return a present he has given you. You might say 'A present is a present, and trying to get it back is stealing'. There's also a nursery rhyme: Given gifts - no return, Found or stolen - must return. But in other words - it's just a cheap giver!