- Of or relating to India or the East Indies or to their peoples, languages, or cultures.
- Of or relating to any of the Native American peoples except the Eskimos, Aleuts, and Inuits.
- A native or inhabitant of India or of the East Indies.
a. A member of any of the Native American peoples except the Eskimos, Aleuts, and Inuits.
b. Any of the languages of these peoples.
- See Indus2.
Assuming that he had reached the Indies, Columbus called the people on the islands his ships visited “indios,” or “Indians,” and the misnomer has stuck ever since. It is natural that people have proposed alternative names, whether to avoid confusion between the inhabitants of America and India or to indicate respect for the original occupants of the American continents. Thus Native American
has become widely established in American English, being acceptable in all contemporary contexts and preferred in many. However, the acceptance of Native American
has not brought about the demise of Indian
, despite persistent criticism. Unlike Negro
, which was quickly stigmatized once black
became preferred, Indian
never fell out of favor with a large segment of the American population. It is firmly rooted in English in such common terms as Plains Indian, French and Indian War,
and Indian Territory
as well as in numerous plant and place names. In locutions of this kind there is no possibility of substitution. • The charge that Indian
is an offensive term—hopelessly tainted by the ignorant or romantic stereotypes of popular American culture—can be answered, at least in part, by pointing to the continuing use of this term among American Indians themselves. Indeed, Indian authors and those sympathetic to Indian causes often prefer it for its unpretentious familiarity as well as its emotional impact, as in this passage from the Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday's memoir The Names
(1976): “It was about this time that [my mother] began to see herself as an Indian. That dim native heritage became a fascination and a cause for her.”
See Usage Notes at American Indian
, First Nation
, Native American