In preparation for 2020 Native American Heritage Month, the follow was obtained from the National Park Service website.
It’s important to use language correctly in our messaging. Native nations were separated from their home lands due to battles, genocide, and western expansion. There are distinctions among various tribes resulting from geographic location, language, and cultural practices. For example, within the Lakota Nation (aka Sioux), there are seven bands and within one band there are three: Hidasta, Arikara, and Mandan. Within the Cheyenne, there are two: Northern and Southern. It’s similar for the Arapaho, River Crow, Mountain Crow, and others. In addition, there are various regional identities, such as the Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Wetlands, etc.
The Harpers Ferry Center Editorial Style Guide provides guidance for NPS staff and partners. We are also grateful for assistance from CIRCLE, the Council for Indigenous Relevancy, Communication, Leadership, and Excellence employee resource group, in developing this guidance. Here are some specific items that might be helpful:
- Create, develop, and share educational activities and youth programs related to AI/AN/NH both past and present. AI/AN/NH are contemporary and ‘living’ cultures and that should be conveyed to the staff and to the public.
- Alaska Native This term refers to the indigneous people of the area. Native Alaskan is anyone from Alaska (including non-indigenous).
- American Indian Some tribes (and their associated parks) prefer Native American. Use specific tribal name(s) whenever possible, accurate, and appropriate. See also First Nations, tribal names.
- First Nation, First Nations Refers to aboriginal people in Canada who are neither Inuit (people of the Canadian Arctic) nor Métis (descendants of First Nation people who married Europeans). Often used in the plural in the collective sense, as in a program for First Nations youth. The term is widely used in Canada but is not used in the US, except in connection with Métis whose homelands include northwest Minnesota, North Dakota, or other northern states. See also American Indian.
- Native American Use if requested by specific tribes or parks. See American Indian.
- tribal name Use specific tribal name(s) whenever possible, accurate, and appropriate. Also the preference is to use the singular noun: Navajo, Lakota, Tlingit. See also American Indian. Examples: The Navajo entered Canyon de Chelly about 300 years ago. The Anishinaabek fished in Lake Superior.