Native American (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: One of many terms used to refer to the peoples of North America whose cultures predate European colonization.
The term “Native American” is commonly used to refer to the many peoples of North America whose cultures existed on the continent when Europeans first arrived. It does not eliminate the possibility of foreign origin in an earlier era. It was coined as a collective name for the native peoples of the Americas (primarily North America) that would not carry the obvious falseness and the historically racist overtones of such terms as “American Indian” and “Indian.” Yet, as is the case with virtually any collective term suggested, there are problems inherent in the term; for example, literally speaking, anyone of any ethnicity born in the Americas could be considered a “native American.”
Beginning in the 1970's, the term Native American lost favor among activist groups and many others concerned with American Indian politics. Nevertheless, the term is still widely used, and some still prefer it to American Indian (although by the 1990's, the latter had become more common or at least more widely accepted). Some American Indians find the offensiveness of all such collective terms to be about the same. All are generalizations that deny the unique, tribal-specific cultural heritage and political legacy of the many original inhabitants of the Americas. At the same time, the names of many pantribal...
(The entire section is 252 words.)
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