Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Thu Dec 14 05:49:41 UTC 2000

The US Geological Survey / US Board on Geographic Names is in the process of shifting from
"American Indian" and/ or "Native American" to "indigenous people(s)."  There is a PC
element in the switch, since "Native American" can mean whites who were born here, and
"Indian" is definitely unPC and is now avoided.  Similarly, "First Canadians" implies that
Canada existed before the British came to North America.  I think there's a similar
tendency there.  The fact that almost all of those Indian groups in Oklahoma were not
indigenous to that part of North America merely adds a messy technicality, I suppose.  I
think Salikoko Mufwene began this line of discussion, so, yes, I'd say you've noticed a
current trend, however much or little clarity or accuracy there is in the choice of term.
Since PCness is involved, I suppose the term 'lexical diffusion' is too bland a term for
what is going on with references to indigenousness, and it usually refers to geographical
diffusion rather than to whatever domain we're dealing with in this case.  Am I implying
that PCness infects dialectologists too?  Heaven forbid!!

Anna Fellegy wrote:

> In my region, northern Minnesota, "indigenous" sometimes refers to
> Native Americans (popularly used by the Native band called "Indigenous")
> or to native peoples of other regions (Maori, aborigine, native
> Hawaiian).
> Anna Fellegy

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