Please be aware that terminology is a shifting and often personal matter. Do not hesitate to let us know if you feel information here is out of date! Included here are a number of tips found in Gregory Younging's book Elements of Indigenous Style, although this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca is another excellent resource for using respectful terminology.
For more information on specific community names, consider the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit – Indigenous Ontology (FNMIIO)
You should always avoid using inappropriate terminology except when:
Some examples of Inappropriate Terminology include:
Following Principle 13, terms for Indigenous identities; Indigenous governmental, social, spiritual, and religion institutions; and Indigenous collective rights should be capitalized. For example:
The "I" in Indigenous is always capitalized. The "P" in People(s) is capitalized according to the following guidelines:
Whenever possible, avoid referring to Indigenous Peoples entirely in past tense. Doing so perpetuates the myth that Indigenous Peoples have been assimilated into mainstream Canadian culture and no longer exist as distinct cultures.
In certain circumstances, such as when describing an activity or event that specifically and exclusively took place in the past, using past tense is acceptable.
Avoid using possessive terms when describing Indigenous Peoples. For example:
Always remember that Indigenous Peoples are distinct nations that are not owned by colonial governments.