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While many Native Americans do refer to each other as “Indians,” some object to the term because it is associated with explorer Christopher Columbus, who mistook the Caribbean islands for those of the Indian Ocean, which were known as the Indies. As a result of the error, people indigenous to the Americas overall were dubbed “Indians.” Also problematic is that many hold Columbus’ arrival into the New World responsible for initiating the subjugation and decimation of Native Americans, so they don’t want to be known by a term that he’s credited with popularizing. Consider saying Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal, First Peoples or Native Peoples instead. The wisest thing to do is to refer to people by their specific ancestry. So, if you know a particular person is Choctaw, Navajo, Lumbee, etc., call him that rather than using umbrella terms such as “American Indian” or “Native American.”

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