Question: do native Americans find the term “plains Indians” offensive?
By - Tired_of_life28
There are 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations within the United States. They all have different names and are not all "plains Indians." There are numerous terms for the original inhabitants of the lands now known as North America such American Indians, Native Americans, Indians, Natives, First Nation, Indigenous, Aboriginals, First Nations, etc.
The history of the term "Indian" is as follows:
The first name given to the inhabitants of the land now known as North America was that of “Indian” which originated from Christopher Columbus in his mistaken belief that he arrived in the East Indies.
It was during the founding and westward expansion of the United States of America where “Indian” became rooted not only within the federal government departments and policies but also within legal statute. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was established in 1824 within the U.S. Department of War to deal with the “Indian” problem and focus on the “Indian” Wars plaguing westward expansion. The term “Indian” is a direct outcome from colonization, colonialism, genocide and extermination. Yet, it is still applicable as it relates to the history within the U.S. Government as it is intertwined with treaties, laws and acts. From the 1830 Indian Removal Act to the 1994 American Indian Religious Freedom Act. “Indians” within the U.S. Government are not just a racial classification. They are, in fact, a special population due to a unique political status upheld by the U.S. Constitution under the Supremacy Clause and holding of treaties as the supreme law of the land. “Indians” within the United States are sovereign nations. People of those Tribes are citizens of their Tribal Nation, U.S. State and the United States of America. Thus, “Indians” are individually registered with their Tribal Nation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs per the Indian Allotment Act of 1887 which requires and assigns blood quantum and enrollment by way of Tribal Nations.
The word “American” was later added to layer on the white centric colonization and legal dominion of the U.S. Government and differentiate “Indians” from others. Hence “American Indian.”
During the Civil Rights Movement, the term “Native American” rose to prominence in an attempt to use an unbiased label for the inhabitants of the land that is now known as North America. Towards the end of the 1900’s, this was shortened to “Native” as a colloquial term used to convey tribal identity.
These terms differ from the terms of First Nation, Indigenous peoples, and First Americans. “First Nation” is specific to Canada. Similarly, “Aboriginal” is specific to Australia. “Indigenous” is all indigenous people who have been dominated or are under domination by people different than the original inhabitants. It is a reduced state when applied from a legal perspective. Colloquially, in relation to the land now known as North American, it refers to Mexico, the U.S., Canada and Alaska indigenous peoples.
There are also other terms such as “Alaska Native” which is specific to the over 200 Tribes within the borders of the U.S. State of Alaska who maintain additional special clauses related to their designation.
There is also “Hawaiian Native” which is rising in prominence as they are being considered by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs as an indigenous population therefore worthy of being labeled, “American Indian” but are, in fact, classified as Polynesian and not included within statutes covering “Indians” within the contiguous U.S. Finally, “First Americans” is Eurocentric and speaks to the colonization and colonial aspects of the U.S. Government. “Indians” were not citizens until 1924 under the Indian Citizen Act and were not allowed religious freedom until 1978 under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. So calling the original inhabitants of the land now known as North America as "First Americans" is not only misinformed but offensive.
Hope this helps you to understand the terms.
The term Indian is very popular and used by lots of natives. It's even in the official name of many tribes. Not all people or tribes though. Likewise the term 'native' is not used by all Indians and many have objections to that one. There's always some outsider coming in and telling people what they need to call themselves and what they need to be offended by. Just more of colonization and white supremacy behind that. The idea whites always know what is best for everyone and are instant experts in every topic.
If your teacher's claims about American Indians having "Indian roots" means we are from India, that is incorrect.
This FAQ addresses some of the terminology issues.
People like to use the name of their specific nation/tribe. But often that alone just elicits perplexed looks.
You can just say natives or Indians, wouldn’t expect you to know what tribe and it’s not you would be able to tell just by looking. I wouldn’t think “plains Indian”would be offensive at least to me it’s not.
It depends on the individual. The term indio (Indian) is very common in Andean circles and we use it to discuss colonial history and identity, but mostly we call ourselves by our nation's name.