First NationFirst Nation
- First Nations
Usage Note: First Nation is widely used in Canada as a respectful alternative to Indian, much as Native American is in the United States. However, the two terms are not exact equivalents. First Nation is essentially a political term used as a substitute for band in referring to any of the numerous aboriginal groups formally recognized by the Canadian government under the Indian Act of 1876. Unlike Native American, it is not a comprehensive ethnic term for all indigenous peoples of the Americas or even of Canada. While it is sometimes used loosely in referring to Indian groups other than those identified in the 1876 Act, it specifically does not include non-Indian peoples such as the Inuit or the Métis. • First Nation has no form for an individual who is a member of a qualifying group. Officially, such a person is known as a status Indian or in some cases a treaty Indian.
(plural First Nations)
- (usually in plural) Of or pertaining to a First Nation or the First Nations.
In Canada, First Nations is the usual term in official use, news media, and polite conversation. Indian has come to have a stigma attached to it because of its origin in Columbus thinking he had arrived in India, but it remains in common use officially (e.g., Canadian government Department of Indian and Northern Affairs) as well as colloquially by First Nations people themselves, and other Canadians. According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, "it is also the only clear way to distinguish among the three general groups of Canadian Aboriginal people (Indians, Inuit, and Metis)."