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The phrase "American Indian" is a simplistic misnomer. That much is understood. Moreover, such a phrase, like the kindred term, "Native American," is a convention and construct of the dominate Euro-American society. This is also a given. Regardless of these truths, a dilemma remains as to how best practically identify for the average visitor to this website the peoples and concerns which are central to the purpose of the site. Thus a need for this explanation and disclaimer.
"American Indian" in the title page has been chosen for several reasons, the first of which is because of its practicality. Though identifiers such as "First Nations" or "Indigenous Peoples" are certainly more accurate and desirable, it seems likely that many people would not relate to those terms as quickly as they would to "American Indian."
If a fundamental purpose of this site is to provide easily accessed and readily comprehended materials to as wide an audience as possible, then it must begin with clarity and directness. Therefore, while admitting the drawback of perpetuating bad terminology and concepts inherent in the nomenclature, the decision to use "American Indian" was largely a pragmatic one. This decision, however, does not preclude the use of improved and more precise terms in the future and acknowledges the site's potential as a vehicle for educating on multiple related issues.
Secondly, if these same considerations of practicality and function were applied to "Native American," the former term would still be superior for, as is sometimes cited in semantic debate, the identifier "Native American" can be aptly applied to anyone born in the Americas and thus is subject to ambiguous interpretations. Another point, though distinct from this particular discussion, is that "Native American" can also invoke the meaning attached to that term by the notoriously xenophobic Protestant American "Know-Nothings" of the mid-19th century.
The third and final consideration that influenced the choice of the predominately used descriptor on this website is the fact that several of the most prominent First Nations' organizations in the country including the National Congress of American Indians, the American Indian College Fund, and the American Indian Movement use that term in conjunction with self-identification.
This having been said, in these pages the terms "American Indian," "Native American," "Indian," "First Nations" and "Indigenous" are all given to broadly mean an individual who traces some or all of her or his ethnic lineage to and identifies with, one or more specific pre-Columbian societies that did or do exist in the Americas. These terms would, of course, also be properly applied in the plural to social structures such as nations, tribes, and bands principally composed of individuals conforming to the above definition.
reprinted rom America Indian Sports Team Mascots