Squaw is borrowed from the Narragansett word for woman and has cognates in the other Algonquin languages. It appears in English in 1634, shortly after the first European settlements in New England. From William Wood’s 1634 New Englands Prospect:
If her husband come to seeke for his Squaw.
Squaw is not, as is sometimes claimed, a Native American word meaning either prostitute or vagina. However, it is still considered by many to be offensive in the same way that addressing an English-speaking female by the word woman is offensive and non-Algonquin Indians may be offended by it because it is not a word in their language—like calling a Frenchwoman Frau.
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition)
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton