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What is Indigenous?

Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants and caretakers of a given land, water, or region. This is in contrast to individuals, communities, and populations who have settled, occupied, or otherwise colonized the areas recently and throughout history. Some words used to describe Indigenous people are Aboriginal, Native, Original Peoples, or First Nations. Indigenous is often used in international, transnational, intertribal, and even in a global context. It's usage became more popularized in the 1970's when many Indigenous nations, tribes, and peoples organized around the world, beyond nation state borders, for greater self-representation and presence at the United Nations. According to the United Nations, Indigenous refers broadly to groups of people who have long settlements and connections to the lands and waters who have been adversely affected by industrialization, displacement, and settlements of their cultural and traditional homelands and water by other non-indigenous peoples. For Indigenous Pride LA, we also acknowledge the effects that colonization and missionization have had on Indigenous peoples, their cultures, their history, and their lands and waters. However, it should be noted that there isn't a general accepted definition of Indigenous and not all Aboriginal, Native, Original, or First Nations peoples identify with the term Indigenous.

"What about...
...American Indians & Alaska Natives?"
...First Nation?"
...Aborigenes, Indígenas, Nativas, & Originarios?"
...Native Americans?"
...Aboriginal?"
...Originals Peoples?"
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American Indians &
Alaska Natives

American Indians & Alaska Natives are more of a legal term used by the United States government to define and categorize people that have origins of the Americas within the politically defined borders of early United States to present day. The term American Indian applies to the Indigenous peoples who lie within the borders which the United States occupied and then expanded into.

American Indian

The generalizing term "Indian" and "savages" started when Italian explorer and colonizer, Christopher Columbus, encountered the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. He initially thought he landed in the Indian Ocean since at the time, North, Central, and South Americas where undiscovered according to the Old World. The label Indian would stay and become popularized starting with the 13 British colonies on the eastern coast of present day United States to the Louisiana Purchase and then to the Treaty of  Guadalupe Hidalgo (Treaty of Paris). The Indigenous people the United States government encountered on the mainland after each war and expansion were all given the label "American Indian" except for Alaska Natives....and the Indigenous peoples of the islands on the Pacific Coast.

Alaska Native

Prior to Alaska Purchase of 1867, the Indigenous peoples of what is now known as Alaska, initiallyl encountered the Russian colonizing traders and missionaries during the mid-eighteenth century. After the Crimean War with Britain as well as other financial difficulties, Russia sold the occupied lands to the United States in 1867. The generalizing term Alaska Natives was given to the Indigenous peoples of the lands. It is because of this that Alaska Natives and American Indians are labeled separately in terms of legal and official recognition by federal and state governments.

It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of the United States identify with the label American Indian as the civil rights movements of the 1960's heightened awareness of the relationship between the sovereign tribes and the United States government. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of the United States do not identify with the label as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.

First Nations

This term is used to generalize the Indigenous people who reside in the political borders of Canada, except the Indigenous peoples who lived above the Arctic Circle in which they were generalized as "Inuit". Inuit under Canadian law are also not considered Indians as their interaction with the Canadian government is unique. "Indians" in Canada also refer to the legal identities of the Indigenous peoples who were and are registered under the Indian Act. First Nations was created to replace the inaccurate label at the time which was Indian or Band in the 1970's but increased usage in the 1980's. This term is also used in legal settings such as the Employment Equity Act in which they are classified as a "designated group" along with women, visible minorities, and people with physical or mental disabilities. They are also not considered a visible minority under the Act or by the criteria of Statistics Canada. Another group in Canada that can trace their heritage to the indigenous peoples of Canada are the Métis which include descendants of European settlers and including but not limited to the Wabanaki, Algonquin, Saulteaux, Cree, Ojibwe, Meno, or of mixed descent from these peoples.

All three, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, are what is collectively known as the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, also known as Aboriginal Canadians. Many Indigenous peoples on the reserves also use the terms First Nations persons, First Nations woman, and First Nations man.

It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Canada identify with the labels First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of Canada do not identify with the labels as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.

Aborigenes, Indígenas, Nativas, & Originarios

All four terms, Aborigenes, Indígenas, Nativas, and Originarios, are used by Spanish speakers in reference to the Aboriginal, Indigenous, Native, and Original peoples of an area, particularly throughout the Americas. Other terms used are Pueblos AborigenesPueblos IndígenasPueblos NativosPueblos OriginariosNativa Americanas, and others.

It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of the Americas identify with these labels. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of the many Latin American countries do not identify with these labels as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.

Native Americans

Generally, this term is used to describe Indigenous peoples of the Americas, including North, Central (including the Caribbean Islands), and South America. In certain contexts, this term also includes Native Hawaiians as seen in many awareness days and holidays.

In the United States, the term Native American was seen as another alternative to the inaccurate term American Indian as many Indigenous peoples felt they were not Indians but rather, Native to the Americas. This term also became popularized during the Self-Determination era of the 1970's which was a period of social movement, legislation, and beliefs by which Native American tribes exercised self governance and decision making on issues that affected each of their own respective peoples.

It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of the United States identify with the label Native American. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of the United States do not identify with the label as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.

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Aboriginal

In Australia, this legally refers to "the aboriginal race of Australia" which includes the Indigenous peoples of mainland Australia and Tasmania. The term Aboriginal Australians was created after the Indigenous peoples encountered the British colonizers in 1788 which was a generalizing term for the British found already inhabiting the island and any descendants of them. In the early 20th century, the Indigenous peoples of Australia were excluded in many demographic data keeping and statistics that were vital in access to resources as well as political and legal representation.

It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Australia identify with the label Aborigine. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of Australia would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribes, or peoples often in their own language.

In Canada, this refers to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, which are the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples whose Indigenous homelands lie within or partially within the politically defined borders of Canada. The term became more popular after 1982 when Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution define the term to be inclusive to all three.

It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Canada identify with Aboriginal Canadian, First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. However, some Indigenous peoples of Canada would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.

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Original Peoples

Original Peoples is often used interchangeably with Indigenous, Native, Aboriginal, or First Nations depending on the context of its usage. Generally, it refers to the Indigenous, Aboriginal, and Native peoples who were and are the original stewards, guardians, or caretakers of certain lands, waters, or regions. This also includes the original peoples' descendants or those with mixed ancestry who are descendant of original peoples.

So what term should I use at Indigenous Pride LA or anytime?

Indigenous Pride LA advises that at Indigenous Pride LA events, to use labels and terms that individuals refer to themselves as. Be it American Indian & Alaska Native, Native American, First Nation, Métis, Inuit, Aboriginal, Aborigine, Original, or Indigenous peoples, individuals may identify with these labels. Be wary however, that individuals may identify with these labels in conjunction with the respective names of their nations, tribes, and peoples. Individuals may also only want to refer to themselves in their own nation's, tribe's, or people's language. Some reasons are that the individuals may feel that they cannot speak for other Indigenous peoples' experiences, history, lives, or traditions. Other reasons may be that they do not want to identify and be referred to as a collective of distinct and unique nations, tribes, or peoples.

For anytime, we recommend asking and making an honest effort to remember an individual's preferences.