"A powerful Alabama politician apologized Tuesday evening for an inflammatory remark made about African-Americans. State Sen. Scott Beason (R) was caught on tape in June calling blacks in Green Country, Alabama 'aboriginal.'
The scene was filmed during an undercover FBI investigation on whether politicians were bribed by special interests to pass a bill legalizing poker video games.
Beason told the audience at a press conference that his words were 'inappropriate, careless, and unnecessary.'"
The remark was of course factually incorrect. "Aborigine" is straight Latin and means "from the beginning", as distinct from people whose ancestors were later arrivals. The aborigines of North America are the Red Indians.
I guess that the senator meant the word to be derogatory but as far as I know the place where the word is most widely used is Australia and nobody regards it as derogatory there.
Though according to some it becomes derogatory when you abbreviate it as "Abo", rather curiously. There is a similar idiocy in Britain, where it is OK to refer to someone as a "Pakistani" but it is considered a deadly insult if you abbreviate it as "Paki"! All very strange.