A message I received on twitter.
I replied that it depends on what you are writing about and what you are referring to (To me it doesn’t matter, what does matter is the context ie-racially motivated use of the word “Indian” will be hurtful but if someone just misuses it…don’t cause an uproar over it). I know this explanation sounds kind of confusing but let me elaborate a bit more.
If you are writing about an organization that refers to Aboriginals as First Nations people, use the term First Nations peoples. If you are writing about Aboriginals and are referring to a bunch of organizations and each of your sources use different terms, pick the one that is most used out of the sources (say one source uses Aboriginal, one uses Indian, and four use First Nations… use First Nations).
However, sometimes the context in which these are used sometimes matters too. If someone is referring to Indians in a racially motivated context (ie-racism, stereotyping), then the use of the term Indian should be avoided when you are talking about this context/term/group of people. In a historical, social, and political context as well, avoid the use of the term Indian.
So, you should avoid using Indian at all (in my opinion). My preference is: doesn’t matter, just as long as you are not being hurtful or spiteful towards me. I refer to myself as Native, Three-Fires, Aboriginal…. but it doesn’t matter. Like I said in my profile attached to this blog,
Note to readers: I use the terms, Aboriginal, Native, First Nations, Indian, interchangeably. I am not bothered by either one. If you are bothered by any one of these words and you belong to this “ethnic group”, you are forewarned. This is just writings about my experiences as a young First Nations Female, and not meant to marginalize this group any further. Additionally, this is not a blog reflective of my personality or character, just my experiences as a young Aboriginal Female in Canadian Society.
Update: if you are going to write about a specific group of Aboriginals, like Ojibwe or Cree, refer to those groups as they wish to be referred to as (not sure or can’t ask around, use the terms they use in your sources).