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Indigenous Studies

This guide provides resources related to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous Studies.


In Chelsea Vowel’s book, Indigenous Writes (2016), she talks about how “there is no across-the-board agreement” (p. 8) among Indigenous Peoples for proper terms for Indigenous Peoples. For those who want to talk and/or write about Indigenous Peoples and issues respectfully, this can feel stressful as they don’t want to inadvertently cause offense (Vowel, 2016). Gregory Younging (2018) notes, “the process of decolonizing language surrounding Indigenous Peoples is not finished” (p. 50) and terminology will continue to evolve. Both authors recommend listening to what Indigenous community members have to say about different terminologies and being open to making corrections.

Vowel provides an overview on the evolution of terminology including some definitions and examples. Younging expands the list of terms and describes how they are appropriate or inappropriate. Links to both eBook chapters are provided below.

Some terms, now considered outdated and/or offensive (such as Indian or Aboriginal), are still in use within legal and/or legislative spheres, for example:

In the Indian Act, an Indian is “a person who pursuant to this Act is registered as an Indian or is entitled to be registered as an Indian.”

In the Constitution Act 1982, Part II refers to the “Rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada” and defines aboriginal peoples as including “the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.”

The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples (1996) uses the term Aboriginal people to “refer to the indigenous inhabitants of Canada when we want to refer in a general manner to Inuit and to First Nations and Métis people, without regard to their separate origins and identities” (p. iii)

More commonly in use now is the term Indigenous. In Canada, Indigenous Peoples collectively refers to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. These are three distinct groups which themselves are made up of culturally distinct communities. To learn more about these and other terms, refer to the terminology resources provided below.


Terminology Resources

For Indigenous Peoples in the USA

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