American Indian


I. noun

a member of any of the groups of indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America, especially those of North America.
II. adjective

relating to American Indians.
usage: The term American Indian has been steadily replaced in the US, especially in official contexts, by Native American (first recorded in the 1950s and becoming prominent in the 1970s). The latter is preferred by some as being a more accurate and respectful description (the word Indian recalling Columbus’ assumption that, on reaching America, he had reached the east coast of India), as well as avoiding the stereotype of cowboys and Indians in the stories of the Wild West. American Indian is still widespread in general use even in the US, however, partly because it is not normally regarded as offensive by American Indians themselves. Nevertheless, since the category American Indian is very broad, it is preferable, where possible, to name the specific people, such as Apache, Comanche, or Sioux.

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