Indian Country

Infrastructure Task Force to Improve Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation in Indian country

I’m not sure what EPA is thinking here but I’m pretty sure “Indian Country” isn’t particularly PC these days. I kind of want to read the story with a John Wayne accent. But what is the correct terminology? I’d go with “Tribal Lands” at a guess. I suppose “Reservations” would also be correct. Anyone know?

Concur. Columbus made a mistake. It should be Native Lands or First Nation or Reservation… whatever. They’re not Indians.

There are programmers at my work… Janardhana, Kaushal, Shridar, Krishna… they are Indians.

Indian Country is a very popular term when talking about places Naive Americans live. There is a newspaper calledIndian Country Today.

“Tribal Lands” would be okay, or Reservations. But in my mind “Indian Country” is a bit broader, to include places that may not be technically owned by tribes or tribal members, but where they might nonetheless live. They are not “Indians” from India, but if they consider themselves “Native” or “Indian,” I don’t see a problem with it.

Sounds like they went off the reservation.

The EPA is using the legal term of art which is used by the tribal organizations themselves. “Indian Country” is, believe it or not, currently used as a self-identifier, as web sites such as indicate.

On Edit: Procrustus beat me to it.

I live a few miles from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana. When I moved here from CA I was trained to use the term ‘Native American’ and never ‘Indian’, and when I used Native American the local people would roll their eyes. Eventually someone pulled me aside and let me know that they don’t like being called Native Americans. So at least around here, the term Indian is preferred to Native American and is considered PC. YMMV

There still exists the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the auspices of the U. S. Department of the Interior.

Interesting Procrustus. I read Indian Country and started thinking of Kit Carson. I didn’t realize it was still in common usage.


Washington State has The Governors Office of Indian Affairs

Slightly off-topic, but AAA used to have an excellent “Guide to Indian Country” map that was great for traveling in the Four Corners area.

Well here is copy of our first treaty with the “Indians” that created the state of Indiana, otherwise known as Indian Country. Oh wait, we broke that one . . . never mind.

My observation is the the “PC pendulum” has swung back to what I see as a reasonable middle ground. While “redskin” and “injun” tend to be offensive per se, “Indian” is usually neutral in connotation. It’s widely understood term of long standing, needing only occasional clarification to distinguish from southern Asians.

In some contexts “Native American Peoples” or “First Nations” is correct and useful, but those terms tend to be clunky and can border on ridiculous in many situations, particularly when referring to individuals. “Indian” has the advantage of being short while encompassing any or many tribes. The fact that many (probably most) Indians use it to refer to themselves attests to its utility and inoffensiveness in many contexts.

And the Smithsonian opened up the National Museum of the American Indian not that long ago. They had a ton of input from native tribes from North & South America into the creation of the museum.

“Indian Country” does sound weird to me but that’s due to the old Western movie sound of it. If it’s the common term among those who live there, I guess I can’t argue.

Yup, almost all the Indians I know use the term ‘Indian’. ‘Native American’ seems to be used primarily by academics and activists.

We have just a few here in [del]Indian Territory[/del] Oklahoma, Land of the Red Man.

Indian, indian, indian, indian, indian.

Now look what you’ve done, it’s gone all weird.

Can I start using the “N Word” again? All the “N Word” people I know call each other the “N Word”. Yep, it’s getting weird. :smack:

No, you can’t.

The vast majority of black or African-American people in this country do not accept “nigger” as an appropriate term for general usage, including most of those who use it amongst themselves.

The Indians I know expect everyone to use “Indian”. They either dislike the term “Native American”, or they’ll accept it and roll their eyes (as someone else mentioned above).

See the difference?

  • PPCAEE = Persons of Pre-Columbian American Ethnic Extraction :slight_smile:
  1. No matter what you do, you’ll offend somebody.

  2. Call people what they want to be called. If dealing with a group, use the consensus or majority’s preference.

  3. A useful rule I learned about 15 years ago is: In general, PPCAEE from east of the Mississippi tend to prefer the use of “Native American”; those from the US west of the Mississippi tend to prefer “American Indian.” But this generality is far from foolproof.

  4. Inuit, Yupik, and Aleuts are not “American Indians” and by and large tend not to care for being described as “Native Americans.” Dene/Athapaskans, on the other hand, don’t take issue with the locally prevalent usage.

  5. “First Nations” is the Canadian term. It’s a legal term of art, including Native Americans/American Indians, Inuit, and Metis. Do not use it for the first of these to the exclusion of the others.

  6. When possible, a lot of fancy footwork and unintended offense can be avoided by using the generally accepted culture-group descriptors, such as Siouan, Algonquian, Athapaskan, etc.

  7. In Canada, “Eskimo” is generally regarded as offensive, and Inuit is the preferred term. In Alaska, where not all the Arctic-coast polysynthetic-language-speakers are Inuit, “Eskimo” is the preferred generic, including both Inuit and Yupik (but not Aleuts). You will never hit on the right term for “people whose ancestors were living in Greenland when Erik the Red showed up,” no matter how hard you try; ask what’s preferred at the moment, and use it boldly.

  8. Never forget that there are at least as many cultural and ethnolinguistic groups native to the American continents as there are in the entire Old World; the majority of generalizations that can be made about them are incorrect or at least subject to substantial exceptions. Tread cautiously.

This is it exactly.

Except, they are Indians, because “Native American” has been a meaning of the word “Indian” for 500 years. This is another cousin of the stupid “I’m not a homophobe because I’m not AFRAID of homosexuals” thing…words mean what words mean, not what they used to mean or what their roots mean in another language. Indian means Indian and Indians WANT to be called Indians as opposed to anything else; you’re the schoolmarm arguing with a dictionary against reality if you disagree.

I’m pretty sure that’s not a coincidence. Sarcasm is a major feature in the Native sense of humor, as is the subversion of their portrayal in earlier white culture.

Incidentally, among the (mostly younger) Native people I know, they like plain old “Native” since it doesn’t have the cultural baggage of “Indian” but isn’t the eye roll inducing PC mouthful “Native American” is.