An organized aboriginal group or community, especially any of the bands officially recognized by the Canadian government.
Related Forms:Usage Note: First Nation
has gained wide acceptance in Canada since the early 1980s. Like Native American
(which has little currency in Canada), First Nation
provides a respectful alternative to Indian,
a term that is more likely to be taken as directly offensive in Canada than it is in the United States. However, there are several differences between the Canadian and American expressions. First Nation
is essentially a political term, promoted from within the indigenous community as a substitute for band
in referring to any of the numerous aboriginal groups formally recognized by the Canadian government under the federal Indian Act of 1876. Unlike Native American,
it is not a comprehensive term for all indigenous peoples of the Americas or even of Canada, and while it is often used loosely in referring to Indian groups or communities other than those specified in the 1876 Act, it specifically does not include non-Indian peoples such as the Inuit or the Métis. Although each recognized band or community is a First Nation,
the term is more commonly used in the plural with a general collective sense, as in a history of the First Nations in eastern Canada
or a program designed for First Nations youth.
There is no related form for an individual who is a member of a First Nation; officially, such a person is known as a status Indian.