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How the Native American population changed since the last census


The focus on this article is demographics, but the most important things to tribes are our language, culture, and tribal sovereignty. We are not a box on a census form and never will be.

We are pre-Constitutional sovereigns, recognized by our treaties with the U.S. and Canada. States like Michigan might force our teachers get "foreign language certificates," despite the fact that Michigan is a word from our language[0], but my children speak their language and our culture are pillars of strength and stability in our family. Blood quanta, problems of race in America, what to call us -- that's not our focus.



That is a data point that is measurable at least and some useful information can be inferred from , though you may have a point that it is incomplete.


This trend was noticed in the most recent census. Home DNA tests sold by the likes of Ancestry and 23andme are a contributing factor.

“We find that people who have taken a [mail in ancestry test] are not only more likely to self-identify as multiracial, they are particularly likely to select three or more races,” Johfre said. These differences were most pronounced for middle-age adults, which means the U.S. multiracial population would be growing because of more than just new births, the researchers noted.


Does this mean those are random "1/16th native american" WASPs and such, that claim the heritage because of the results, but otherwise didn't know about it, or have any real relation (demographic, cultural, etc) with native americans?

Because that's quite different than Native Americans actually increasing as demographic groups...


It's still significant because it speaks to people being more willing to admit to being part Native.

My father actively downplayed his 1/16th Cherokee blood quantum -- and a lot of Natives are quite vocal about hating the whole idea of blood quantum, but that's probably more than people here want to know -- and I grew up in a house in the 'burbs bought the summer I turned three with his military mortgage benefits.

In the New York and northern New Jersey suburbs 67,000 mortgages were insured by the G.I. Bill, but fewer than 100 were taken out by non-whites.

He never said much about his Native heritage. I think he did so to be white-passing in a world where lynchings still happened.

I am actively trying to learn about the cultural heritage I was denied apparently largely due to fear of violent white supremacists, basically.

Dismissing the interest in their heritage of people like me is just more erasure of Natives and Native culture. It actively reinforces racism in subtle ways. The subtlety helps make it insidious and hard to combat, unfortunately.


I am actively trying to learn about the cultural heritage I was denied

Speaking as someone who is also 1/32, same as you, people like us need to stop pretending having a sliver of genetic material somehow entitles us to a "cultural heritage". 1/32 is five generations. That's three percent. For comparison, the average European-American's DNA is 3.5% African. White people are blacker than you and me are Native American.


I mean maybe he never said anything because it's so tangential. My family is from Mexico and I'm 1/4th native. I've literally never heard anyone mention anything about it because it's practically meaningless. It doesn't afford any special treatment in the US, and DEFINITELY not in Mexico.

The only tribe I ever hear this brought up about is Cherokee lol


This reminds me of people in Soviet Union who chose to write “Russian” as their ethnicity in passport despite different ancestry (yes, there was such section in Soviet and later Russian passports until 1990s). Indigenous people of Siberia or Caucasus, Germans and Jews too familiar of ethnic prejudices were redefining their identity to open career opportunities. You could take either ethnicity of your father or your mother, being Russian was often considered the safest bet.


>I am actively trying to learn about the cultural heritage I was denied apparently largely due to fear of violent white supremacists, basically.

At something like the 1/16th level, it doesn't mean anything anyway (not even to white supremacists, but much less so as a real heritage). A heritage is the shared experiences, raising, and cultural connection, not about some miniscule bloodline/dna.

Unless we're talking about isolated inter-breeding populations, almost all people several 1/16ths of one or another ethnicity, that they have absolutely no connection with in any way (or ever cared about).


> a lot of Natives are quite vocal about hating the whole idea of blood quantum

Not to be too rude about it, but everybody outside the US hates it. Go to any European forum and see how they roll their eyes when an American says "I'm half Irish, quarter Norwegian and 342/2636ths Italian."

There's a tendency to treat ethnicity as a clothing accessory rather than a culture.


> It's still significant because it speaks to people being more willing to admit to being part Native.

More people are proud to proclaim being First Nations people.


It's not the 1/<big number> that annoys people. It's the "claim the heritage because of the results, but otherwise didn't know about it, or have any real relation (demographic, cultural, etc)" part that annoys people.

And when someone is called out for this the inevitable response is "blood quantum is deeply offensive" crap which misses the whole point. If you sever ties with a culture for many generations you cease to be that culture. Someone who's great^N granddaddy banged a slave is no more African than an Nth generation American is <insert European culture here>


How do you go about learning more? I'm trying to do the same


> Does this mean those are random "1/16th native american" WASPs and such, that claim the heritage because of the results, but otherwise didn't know about it, or have any real relation (demographic, cultural, etc) with native americans?

In the theory under which “race” is meaningful, it is biological and distinct from (and orthogonal to) social “ethnic” categories, so claiming race on that basis is exactly as valid as the idea of race itself.

Now, if we admit that “race” is just a dishonest label assigned to certain ethnic categories...


> In the theory under which “race” is meaningful, it is biological and distinct from (and orthogonal to) social “ethnic” categories, so claiming race on that basis is exactly as valid as the idea of race itself.

But even on that basis, 1/16 is not very meaningful.

> Now, if we admit that “race” is just a dishonest label assigned to certain ethnic categories...

...then we're looking at demographic groups, like the earlier comment asked about.


I'd say, it's a broader concept that includes many ethnic groups with similar geographical origins and/or backgrounds and shared ancestries. Not that precise of course and with fuzzy edges...


I'm confused here - are you saying that ethnic categories are social constructs?


I’m 90% sure future historians will look back on this race to four significant digits trend the way we look at Victorian numerology. Correlated to real phenomena. But self obsessed to the point of irrelevance.


Yes, and thats interesting and important.

People begin inquisitiveness and empathy after realizing they are part of a uniquely North American diaspora. Its really not about being a poser or trying to get an obscure scholarship. The inquisitiveness leads to finding relatives and members of a tribe thought disbanded or eradicated, reconnecting by fractional blood can lead to being eligible for recognition, land and some degrees of sovereignty.


Not to nitpick, but totally nit picking. I don’t think people of NA heritage (in NA) would be considered a diaspora


I’d be interested to see the data. Black people are vastly more likely to have Native American DNA than WASPs because it was common until about 1750 for slave owners to buy/trade for female slaves with the Native American tribes.


"Their conclusions were that while almost all African Americans are racially mixed, and many have family stories of Native heritage, usually these stories turn out to be inaccurate, with only 5 percent of African American people showing more than 2 percent Native American ancestry. Gates summarized these statistics to mean that, "If you have 2 percent Native American ancestry, you had one such ancestor on your family tree five to nine generations back (150 to 270 years ago)." Their findings also concluded that the most common "non-black" mix among African Americans is English and Scots-Irish."


Yes, quite likely. Also in order to be accurate DNA services need to have enough samples (of the group and the geographic region) to be accurate otherwise they can be misleading.


Eh or it’s due to racism. I as a “white” skinned person often hesitate to put my race down for a multitude of reasons.

My family has moved to a new country every hundred-ish years so it’s hard to pin down a specific race anyways.


I can only speak from my observation of the tribes local to me.

In the 80s and early 90s the reservation was very poor on average (entire area is/was rural so it wasn't just on the res but it was significantly worse there). If you have ever watched the movie "Smoke signals" it has scenes shot which depict life on the local reservation (Coeur d'Alene tribe). Since the mid 90s or so things changed very rapidly for the tribe. The people are healthier, the infrastructure is better and the population seems to be growing and overall happier (again...observations).

What changed? Casinos.

Our local tribe went from being very poor with seemingly little voice in local politics to "very important" to the local community. They have not only improved their own lives but also invest heavily in improving the region and have a focus on things like the lake and natural preservation. Again...from my general observations...


Economically, casinos are a mixed bag for tribes. The ones that have been successful are super successful, but many other tribes operating casinos find themselves spending money on gaming that doesn’t pay off.

It makes a certain intuitive sense; a lot of reservation land was, unfortunately, poor land in the middle of nowhere. Building a casino in the middle of nowhere won’t do you any good, so the tribes that profit are the ones with proximity to major population centers (see: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in CT; Winstar and Chocktaw in OK). It ends up coming down to luck and location more than anything else.


I also can only speak to the tribes near me, but casinos only help if the reservation is near people. The poorest US counties are mostly either places with a prison or a reservation, the lowest median household income is Buffalo County in South Dakota with a casino of it's own.


A couple of very large settlements [1], one being $452M, can go a long way to helping a poor community.



Without the casino opening in 1993 would they have been able to afford to gain traction on that suit? The whole lake should be a superfund site...but that would have ruined tourism. The Silver valley has been well known and from what I know is the only area really being actively "cleaned".

Cd'a, Spokane, Kalispel and Chewelah all opened tribal casinos and a few of them did fairly well.

As others have stated...proximity to a fairly large metropolitan area helps bring in traffic. Not to mention the area is on/near the junction of 2 major highways (I-90 and US95), airport, tourism...etc.



Fun fact, the poorest county's casino I mentioned in my other post is 20 miles off of I-90 as well. Interstates are funny like that.


I'm in favor of removing the race question from the census. It proliferates collectivist thinking (my people/kin vs others, based on bloodlines or appearance) over individualism. It is also used as a justification for implementing discriminatory policies, ironically in the name of fighting discrimination.


The census exists to inform policy. If there is discrimination based on race, then we're better off measuring it so we can address it than burying our heads in the sand.

Of course, this may lead to targeted policies, just as insulin is applied to people with a diabetes diagnosis, and not to the general population.


The comparison to diabetes has one major flaw. You either have or don't have diabetes and the fact that you are tested for it does not change your diabetes status. You can only measure it, but your measurement won't alter the situation.

But by constantly reminding people of their racial category, a feedback loop is created. The more are people defined by their race, the more important will they consider their racial category. They will also start viewing more interactions through the race angle, especially the negative ones. Not "the policeman was rude because he is an asshole", but "the policeman was rude because I am of a different race from him".

I cannot imagine a scenario where constant race consciousness leads to people being less concerned about anything that can be construed as racially charged.


The goal is, indeed, to make people more concerned about things that can be construed as racially charged, because of the first step to addressing inequity is to identify it. There are very many people who see what are obvious instances of structural racism (including the police interaction example you highlighted) and will fight tooth and claw to assert that no racism was involved. The result is apathy, lack of improvement, and continued racially-charged interactions between police and citizens. Pretending they aren't racially charged doesn't make them go away.

Before positive changes can be made, people need to recognize that do-nothing mindset is very common. On this, two days after Martin Luther King Jr Day, it may be value for us all to reflect on his words on the difference between the peace of the absence of tension and the peace of the presence of justice.


I hardly think a once a decade census is "constantly reminding people of their racial catagory". From my experience, it would be the rascists doing the constant reminding, and not just the cross burning kinds. I've met all kinds of rascists.

Every one of my very white looking kids has fielded questions about that dark hispanic guy hanging around, or knocking on the door to pick them up. They've also been privy to rascist discussion that they've later shared with me, since people don't see them as non-white.

Heck, I didn't see myself as non-white until I moved to a rural school in the early 90's.


But even Native American tribes mostly care about people who are culturally present in their tribes as members versus being of Native American race.

For example those whose ancestors didn't partake in the Dawes Roles are generally excluded from tribal membership even if they are genetically similar; the reasoning being they haven't been present as citizens in generations.

And really, what should we care about most? A particular hue of skin, or our values, principles, traditions, and history?


> And really, what should we care about most? A particular hue of skin, or our values, principles, traditions, and history?

That's always been a hard question to answer when there's an existing reality and history in which the "should" in your first sentence is replaced by "do". It's easy to say that it would be best to start doing the right thing today (or even yesterday); much harder to do that after centuries of doing the wrong thing.


> census exists to inform policy

Race is a social construct. The census strengthens that construct. OP’s argument is that race should be a weaker construct, which is a legitimate if debatable argument.


Second OP's point is that yes, race is a social construct, with clear and consistent impacts in real people's lives every day. The census exists to measure things that may be used to inform policy.

Therefore, something such as race, even if it is an arbitrary social construct used to divide based on nothing more than skin color, is important to measure against other factors such as income and address. It helps you decide when/where/what is being discriminatory.

Race should be a weaker social construct, yes. But living in Infinite Fun Space doesn't help anyone today in the real.


I keep expecting (not hopefully) the establishment of "Trans Racial" people, where people want to be recognized as the race they identify as, rather than what they were labeled at birth. The logic is precisely the same as transgenderism. There have been a few cases, with the Rachel Dolezal case of 2015 getting a lot of attention.[1] I wonder if the status that transgenderism has achieved would make such a movement easier. Or, would it discredit such movements and "dysphoria" diagnoses? I mean, if we're going to alter/deny immutable traits, and if race is truly a "social construct", why wouldn't trans-racialism become a thing?



Ignoring race doesn’t make it stop being a problem. We tried that from basically the 1980s till the mid-2000s and things really only got worse. Race may have stopped being on the minds of white people, but it is always on the minds of non-white people every time they interact with a white person. Not engaging on racial issues is why we had riots in 2020.


No. Especially for the Native American population. It's important for us to have statistics on those with Native blood, especially since the government was entitled to legally kidnap children from family regardless of home stability as recently as 1978.


Did they actually use that power that recently, or was this one of those "200 year old law" situations?


Forced boarding schools were extensively used as forced assimilation up until 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act [1] was passed. These boarding schools were notoriously strict, often abusive[2], and often church-run [3]. This led to an unknown number of deaths in the Native children population, many of whom are only just now being discovered and identified [4,5]. Unfortunately, the ICWA has been under attack via the courts recently even though the United States has a history of abuse and maltreatment of Native American children [6].

1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6:

I highly recommend Cecily Hilleary's relevant articles on VOA if you're unfamiliar of the grotesque and disturbing history of forced assimilation and cultural genocide through America's Indian Boarding schools. They are excellent primers on the topic, highlighting yet another example of the US's embarrassing treatment of America's indigenous population.

Examples of Cecily Hilleary's great investigative work on boarding schools and maltreatment of Native children:

- - - - -

Some recommended reading if you're interested in learning more about Indian boarding schools:

- - - - - -


True. And, the question is now meaningless, too, because people can select multiple answers, and can base their choice(s) on self perception rather than actual lineage.


Racism is also based on perception and not actual lineages.


Trying to eliminate the concept of race for those that aren’t racist only further empowers the racists. You can’t jump the gun. In your personal life I think it’s good to end any acknowledgement of race, but you still need to keep the social dynamics in mind. Like an atheist in church, don’t go around yelling God’s not real. Sit down and think about how these people collectively keep this idea alive.


This should come as a surprise to no one. Many white people like to identify as some amount of some racial or cultural group that isn’t white. Whether that’s talking about a grandmother that was “full blooded” $tribe/nation or leaning into Irish/German/Italian/etc ancestry.

As white culture has become more and more generic due to mass media and little regional variation, many people are going to try to find something unique or “exotic” about themselves to make them stand out. It’s peacocking, both inwardly and outwardly focused. You see this especially strong in social and mating contexts (read: bars).

There’s a lot of problems with this, but primary is that it puts the Native American experience as one that exists only in the past. Not the reality of the lives lives by people belong to the various tribes and nations today.


> As white culture has become more and more generic due to mass media and little regional variation, many people are going to try to find something unique or “exotic” about themselves to make them stand out. It’s peacocking, both inwardly and outwardly focused. You see this especially strong in social and mating contexts (read: bars).

That is not the reason some white people try very hard to find some non-white person in their family tree and are willing to go so far as to make one up if they can't find one. Some do it in an attempt to be able to claim to be 'not one of those white folks' when confronted with anti-white narratives. Others - Elisabeth Warren [1], Rachel Dolezal [2], Tracy Castro-Gill [3] and many, many more - do it to try to get a piece of the positive discrimination/positive action/affirmative action pie which is set aside for members of specific identity groups. Others do it to have a way out when confronted with the all too common claims of "white supremacy" or "white privilege" or similar racialised slurs.

That white people voluntarily take upon them claims of non-whiteness should give lie to claims of oppression of the minorities they claim to be part of unless all those who take up (often faked) minority identities happen to be masochists.





It’s because being straight, white and not trans means you’re an evil oppressor to a lot of younger people these days. They at least have to claim bisexuality when they aren’t, or loudly proclaim their brown ethnicity when they’re in fact over 7/8 European and could claim a noble title and European citizenship.

It’s almost like people are judging everyone by the color of their skin instead of the content of their character.


Be aware that census data is contextual to it's location. During the 2020 census we struggled heavily to census reservations and the rural country in general. Sometimes receiving threats of violence. We were asked many times to census various areas and simply could not do so for our safety because the number of anti government types has made it dangerous.

Imo the main statistic, number of people, is the most accurate. All the rest are optional inputs and may not accurately reflect the true data due to the nature of collection.


Threats of violence occur because in the last ten years, many reservations have suffered a silent invasion by Mexican drug cartels.

This has occurred in reservations all through the US, along Northern and Southern borders, creating large areas of lawlessness, at horrific human cost. It's not anti-government types so much as Mexican cartels and their types.

If they talk to any outsiders, it can mean death and torture.

Tribal police are strong in some places, but they're laughably insufficient in most cases, and there's an intersection of tribal pride, corruption, distrust of feds, and being overwhelmed that have given cartels a large number of virtually untouchable strongholds.

There are places law enforcement cannot and will not go inside the borders of the US under the control of drug cartel strongmen. Human trafficking, murder, disappearances, drug trade, murder for hire, money laundering, and so on are being hidden under the veil of tribal sovereignty.

The number of girls and young women that go missing is an atrocity, but the ones that go unreported are worse. These people are owed more.

I'm not sure what the solution is that preserves native sovereignty and roots out the cartels, but the US is headed for a dramatic escalation of violence inside the borders. I am as against the war on drugs as anyone, and support blanket legalization as a necessary tool in neutering cartels and their influence. The trouble now is that cartels with militarized presence and sophisticated logistics will need US military intervention within our borders, and on tribal lands, and that's a politically untenable proposition.

So it festers. People disappear. Outsiders see a superficial veneer of anti-government sentiment but the problems are much deeper and more destructive for native cultures. The longer it goes on, the higher the eventual cost will be.

It's shocking that this isn't better known, but maybe Americans don't want introspection of truly scary things.


That's not as applicable to this region, but yes that is part of it. However this was not simply tribals, a good number of threats and acts came from old rural white men. They think the "government" is coming after them and therefore anyone with a clipboard and a name tag is a secret agent to them. I am dead serious.


(Citation needed)


I could literally go on for thousands of small town stories, or tens of thousands individual family stories about murder and trafficking. This is happening in reservations all over the US and along southern Canada. All of the lower 48, I'm not sure about Hawaii or Alaska.

Along the west coast, lots of illicit marijuana farming, and lots of truck stops and trafficking logistics and meth manufacture elsewhere.

I don't know why we haven't seen a journalistic investigation into the big picture. I've spoken to native friends who have family on reservations who see cartel members recruiting youth, meeting with elders, and crazy shootouts.


Back when I was doing grants, I had the US Census for a reservation for 1970, 1980, and 1990. I remember that the total population had not gone up by much (maybe 8,000 to 8,200), but on each census 50% of the population was under 18. That scared me deeply.

Doubling would have been happier.


Maybe that was due to a lot of people leaving the reservation?


I have hopes but I doubt it.


Native American adults are likelier to have served in the military than the overall population.

The American military has its good points. Being more fair/less unfair about racial issues seems to be one of them.

My career-Army ex-husband once said to me "We are all part of the Green Race." In other words, we are blood brothers because of the uniform and because of civilians excluding active duty military families.

When I was a military spouse, the general unemployment rate was around 5 or 6 percent and the unemployment rate for military spouses was around 30 percent. I think this is in part because locals don't want to hire someone knowing they will likely move again in two or three years and in part because the military has good benefits, so it is still possible -- or was when I was a military spouse -- to support a family on one income, which seems to generally not be true for most Americans these days.

The military tends to have a somewhat high percentage of people of color generally. I honestly think it's in part because promotions are less racially biased than they seem to be in the civilian world.


> The military tends to have a somewhat high percentage of people of color generally.

Isn't this due to the U.S. Military being more attractive to poorer people, which are statistically more likely to be of color?


Yeah. I was having trouble justifying the cost of college and was trying to go for ROTC but couldn't because of medical issues. My dad essentially used the air force as a means to extract himself from generational poverty. We're white, so money was really the only motivation though I think he overall enjoyed his time there (non-combat role).




>I honestly think it's in part because promotions are less racially biased than they seem to be in the civilian world.

But the top brass is definitely not racial diverse. So its actually the other way around. More people of color serve because poorer people are more likely to serve, but even when people of color are over represented in the military they are still underrepresented in the leadership. Making the military even more biased than rest of society.

A drill sergeant yelling equally at everyone does not mean that the system is equal.



It's not the same. Amish fertility is 5-6 children per woman. Doubling is expected.

Native American fertility is actually below replacement (and lower than white, last I saw). But the definition of NA is more expansive, and the population can "expand" through outmarriage.


> and the population can "expand" through outmarriage

You see something very similar going on with the Reform Jewish population. Reform Jews have relatively few kids, but a very high intermarriage rate (about 80% of Reform Jews marry non-Jews!) so you see the Reform Jewish population increasing regardless.


And also the Haredim Jewish sects are seeing strong growth.

Both the Amish and the Haredim reject a lot of modernity and are quite conservative as well look to keep traditional families and gender roles. Probably not a coincidence that there are the groups still seeing strong growth.




It's worth noting that the definition of "Native American" varies over time. In addition to people self-identifying for various political, social, and economic reasons, the tribes can decide their own level of generic purity. One tribe can specify that you must be ¼ indian to qualify for their tribe, while others can make it far less or more.

All of this leads to the old joke, "What do you call 64 Cheyenne in a room?" "One indian."

The linked article unfortunately bases its conclusions on "self-identification," which is problematic. When the federal government sent the tribes billions of dollars in COVID relief money, suddenly there were newly-minted, self-described "indians" crawling out of the woodwork trying to get a check.

Also realated, there's currently a bunch of people on a reservation outside of Seattle who are being kicked out of their homes because they're not tribal enough. The tribe changed its definition, and because these people are from a related tribe up in Canada, they no longer qualify.

/Friends with a lot of indians. Subscribe to two indian newspapers. And yes "Indian" is correct. It's only white people and city indians who embrace the term "Native American." Rez indians call themselves "indians." Proudly.


As an archaeologist for whom the topic of names comes up a lot, why in the world would you give general advice on "Indian" naming? It's obviously specific to individual preferences and you should generally prefer identifying people with nations anyway.


“Indian” refers to Indians as a whole, especially with respect to their political relationship with the United States. Indians themselves use the term in that context, and it’s the preferred term in, for example, the field of Indian law.

It’s like the term “Asian.” Few people identify as generic “Asian” and it would be incorrect to equate it with a nationality or specific culture. But it does work at a high level to address a group of people who have something in common on a political dimension.


It would be nice if the Canadian term First Nations was adopted for the political sense.




Where did you learn that?


why in the world would you give general advice on "Indian" naming?

I'm not. I'm reiterating what has been told to me by close to a dozen Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni indians.

Why would some random archaeologist decide for a large group of people what they should be called, when they call themselves something else?

I happen to have the January 6, 2020 edition of The Navajo Times on my desk. Just skimming the headlines (because I haven't read it yet), I see the following:

"Phoenix Indian Center," "Gallup Indian Medical Center," "Indian Health Service," "Santa Fe Indian."

The Four Corners region of the United States is called "Indian Country" by the indians who live there.

What give you the right to tell people what they can call themselves?


I'd encourage you to re-read what I wrote, because I've very intentionally avoided telling anyone what they can call themselves.

Part of this whole respecting preferences is that individual terms have to be treated separately. "Indian" is different than "American Indian" which is again different from "Indian country" or "Indian law". Someone may dislike some or most of these without necessarily disliking the others. The ones with specific technical meanings we're unfortunately stuck with in context.

Another popular example of this sort of issue is "Navajo" itself, as many would prefer to be called Diné or some derivative thereof.


CGP Grey made a very convincing video on the argument that at least in the US, unexpectedly enough, "Indian" is probably the most appropriate term to use for Native Americans for a multitude of reasons:


Interesting but there is only a Part 0. Unless it is some sort of inside joke, I was hoping for more.




> identifying people with nations anyway.

Always awkward after conquests.


I am not white or a city Native American and I use Indian for people from the country of India, because it results in less confusion.


If you want to prevent ambiguity you can use "American Indians" and "People from India". But usually it is clear from the context what you mean.


Whoa, sorry, I posted this under the wrong post. This was supposed to go under


On a trip to the Monument Valley, our guide explicitly told us they hate being named as Indian. They seem to prefer their tribal name or if I remember correctly, First Nation).


It depends, these groups of people are not a monolith. US federal legislation and agencies often use “Native American” or “American Indian” on signage, etc. and some groups use similar, others don’t. I have found “indigenous” to be the most widely-accepted contemporary moniker.


First Nation is Canadian, and I would point out the number of reservations that have high school teams named "Indians". Those names are local.


My bad. Our guide told us the Navajo believe they were one of the first humans on the Earth, maybe I mis-remembered it as first nation.


Cubans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans are all hispanic or latino but don't confuse them.


Although, if you are not an enrolled member of a tribe and you say you're an Indian on a reservation, expect some serious backlash. Harvard may accept you but the tribes will not.

That being said, some tribes use their enrollment offices as a power play on some members. I do wish the federal government would step in some way. Its a tricky subject.


>I do wish the federal government would step in some way

Yes, what Native Americans could use is more federal meddling in their lands, tribes, and affairs... /s


In Canada tribal offices get money from the federal government and they get to decide how to spend it. Some tribes equally share, others hire family and the money never trickles down.

You can't take the easy way out and ignore the problem because you are part of the problem.


Its not like they don't interfere all the time anyway, might as well do something positive for once.


What about the Indians from India? What do they call them?


Slang wise, I've heard the phrase "beads not feathers". Generally, when talking on a reservation, its pretty obvious, but "Indians from India" was another. Depends on the crowd. You also have to remember that Native Americans talking about other Native Americans will use slang (not for outside use) or refer to the other's tribe.

1) I remember a band that I thought was called "Beads and Feathers" that had Native Americans and Indians.


I've always seen "feather" contrasted with "dot", not "bead".

I've gotten the sense from Brown Pundits that among themselves they refer to themselves as Desi. ( )


In the movie, Good Will Hunting, clarification is made with “Dot, not feathers” which seems more accurate since both a dot mark and a feather are forehead ornamentations.


I have heard "Sari not sorry". Dunno where that came from, but I think I like it.


I dunno, but I've seen/used American Indians before to disambiguate (unless talking about specific nations/ethnicities), and Indian-Americans for Americans from India. for (non-American Indian) Indians in India, maybe Indian Indians? subcontinental Indians? that last sounds wrong to me but I dunno what else to use!


I never disambiguate. my accent is thick enough to give away which type of Indian I am.


As someone of Indian origin - I just call myself South Asian. This seems to be accepted term by many of us who were either born or raised in the west. That could include people of Pakistani heritage, Sri Lankan, Nepal and Bangladesh.


East Indians. In rural parts of Canada and the US where indigenous North Americans are the largest minority, restaurants that serve South Asian food (if they even exist) tend be self-described as serving East Indian cuisine.


I'm not sure why this comment has been downvoted. It's a simple fact that anyone traveling in the prairies can confirm. Like it or not, in parts of Canada and the US, "East Indian" is a common term used to refer to people from the country of India. Here is just one example of a restaurant that describes itself that way:


Even where I live, in a county which probably has 10 times more Indian-Americans than American Indians, the relevant section of the ethnic food aisle in supermarkets is described as "East Indian".


I suspect it doesn’t come up that often.


Indian is definitely not used in Canada nor is Native American as it turned into a very derogatory term. The preferred term is First Nations and Inuit.


I once had a girl ask me if she looked Indian. I said no, she got pissed off, and it was quite a while before I realized she didn't mean "from India." Turned out she was from Whitehorse, "full blooded Indian" she said.

First Nations is what they say on the CBC, but "Indian" hasn't been stamped out completely.


In all seriousness, I wonder how long it will be until "First Nations" and "Inuit" become derogatory. I didn't even know "Native American" was bad, to be honest.


There are already people who consider terms like "Inuit" homogenizing and insulting. There are thousands of indigenous groups in the Americas and every person in them can have their own preferences and opinions. There isn't a singular term to refer to the totality of their identities any more than there is for "Eurasians".


Native American is giving them the name of an Italian man who helped colonize them, it's not difficult to see why that's a poor name choice.


Meanwhile in Canada I have an Indian Status Card

I've heard plenty Indians call themselves Indian. Probably tied to locality

When my father was in school in Northern Ontario they were having students cross out "savages" in text books & write in "Indians". While I was growing up the term was moving to aboriginal


The same is not true in the US. Although in the late 80's, I almost got into a fight in Winnipeg because someone asked my Dakota classmate what "reserve he was from". Neither of us had ever heard the term, and it was not, initially, accepted as a friendly inquiry. "You think I'm an animal wasi'chu" did get the guy thinking there was a bit of terminology mismatch.


Much of my mother's side of the family is Navajo and they do use the term Indian. Inuit is a completely different group much, much further north.


Yes, if you're willing to pay people to say that they're Native American, over time more people will say it.


I recently visited my ex-girlfriend, who is part Navajo, when passing through the city she lives in now and we had a good laugh about this. When we were dating, she never talked about being Native American because she didn’t think it would benefit her in any way. We actually argued about whether she should apply for the Native American scholarships available to her and she was against it at the time. But, since the Democratic Party identity politics craze began, she warmed up to the idea and now she shamelessly uses it to her advantage. I hate identity politics and so does she, but I was pleased to learn she became comfortable with it for her own sake. In her case, she never passed for white anyhow.




Or, maybe because its been economically, socially and legally advantageous to be considered white for hundreds of years, so people who weren't white were saying they were (if they could get away with it). What we're seeing now may be a pendulum swing, and if so, good.


It’s hardly good if multi-generational white-passing, possibly advantaged folks are reclassifying themselves as white. For example, Elizabeth Warren, who has infinitely more privilege than my brown ass.


Yup, they'll have both Native and White privilege with this.


Isn't Warren white and reclassified herself as American Indian though?


>"What we're seeing now may be a pendulum swing, and if so, good."

I was raised to believe that 'the pendulum' coming to rest, so to speak, is the good thing.


Don't disagree with you. I'm happy it's swinging away from the extreme position its been held in for centuries. I never stated where I want it to come to rest. Maybe if we remove the structures that have kept it in place it will come to rest somewhere agreeable? (though for the majority of those who stand to lose power, it's unlikely to be agreeable).


> Or, maybe

What difference do you see between my comment and yours?


You said payment.

They described a lessening of discrimination.

Those are very different things.


As seen by Senator Elizabeth Warren, identifying as Native American can confer quite a few benefits, and that was back in the 80's. These days I can only assume the dividends are even greater.

With that in mind it is not a huge leap of the imagination that, if given the option to, many people will self-id as Native American to gain a perceive edge in a society were diversity is increasingly valuable.