Native Americans

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Author: Phil Bellfy
Editor: Stanley I. Kutler
Date: 2003
Dictionary of American History
From: Dictionary of American History(Vol. 6. 3rd ed.)
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Document Type: Topic overview
Pages: 1
Content Level: (Level 3)

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NATIVE AMERICANS. "Native American" is the official term used by the U.S. government to refer to the original inhabitants of the lower 48 states. It was adopted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the 1960s after considerable "consciousness raising" on the part of Native activists to abandon the official use of the misnomer "Indian."

Although accepted by many tribal groups and people, many Native people reject the term because it is the "official" government designation and therefore immediately suspect. Also, the term still refers to "America," considered by many to be an inappropriate Eurocentric term. Finally, the term is confusing because it is also used to refer to people born in the United States—"native Americans."


Bellfy, Phil. Indians and Other Misnomers: A Cross-Referenced Dictionary of the People, Persons, and Places of Native North America. Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Press, 2001.

Phil Bellfy

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Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3401802896