Is it better to say first nations or indigenous?

However, people with indigenous descent may use the term to refer to themselves or to other indigenous peoples. The use of the word “Indian” is considered offensive by many First Nations. The word “Aboriginal” replaced “Indian” and “native”. American Indians, Indians, Native Americans, or Natives are acceptable and are often used interchangeably in the United States; however, native peoples often have individual preferences about how they would like to be addressed.

To find out what the best term is, ask the person or group which term they prefer. When talking about native groups or people, use the terminology that community members use to describe themselves collectively. There are also several terms used to refer to native peoples from other regions of the Western Hemisphere. The Inuit, Yup'ik and Aleutian peoples of the Arctic see themselves as culturally separated from the Indians.

In Canada, people refer to themselves as First Nations, First Peoples, or Aborigines. In Mexico, Central and South America, the direct translation of Indian can have negative connotations. As a result, they prefer the Spanish words indigenous (indigenous), community (community) and people (people). Learn how federal employees in the National Capital Region can learn directly from indigenous elders through teaching, guidance and advice.

As an expert on indigenous issues, I am often asked what is the appropriate or “politically correct” term to describe indigenous peoples, First Nations and Aboriginal people. In Canada, the accepted term for people who are indigenous and who do not identify themselves as Inuit or mixed race is First Nations. The term Aboriginal was introduced into the Canadian Constitution of 1982 by its federal government as a “general” term to include First Nations, Inuit and mixed race people. The numbers vary widely by province, and Quebec has the highest proportion of First Nations people living on reservations, with nearly three-quarters of them.

While the terminology used by the Government can be a good guide to understanding the differences between mixed-race, Inuit and First Nations (all of them included in the terms “aboriginal” or “indigenous”), the best guideline comes directly from indigenous peoples. Some First Nations people in Canada also refer to themselves as “Indians”, and federal legislation is still called the Indian Act. The terms Aboriginal, Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples are generally accepted terms in Canada and include First Nations, Mestizos, and Inuit. It depends on which First Nation the student belongs to and whether the First Nation has funding for the student.

The term Indian should be used only when referring to a First Nations person with status under Indian Law, and only within a legal context. It's a common misconception that people from Canada's First Nations don't pay federal or provincial taxes. It is used synonymously with Aboriginal and, in many cases, is the preferred term as a collective name for First Nations, mixed race and Inuit. Because there are more than 50 different indigenous nations in Canada, living in more than 600 communities, it can be difficult to find a single word that covers everything.

The Potlatch is the cultural, political, economic and educational heart of the First Nations along the Northwest Coast. Today, there are about 630 different First Nations communities in Canada, approximately half of which are in British Columbia and Ontario.

Dominic Bélanger
Dominic Bélanger

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