Who are Indians?

Christopher Columbus first used the term “Indian” in 1492 to describe the people occupying North America; Columbus believed that he had reached India. First Nations people feel fortunate that he was not looking for Turkey.

Indian, or First Nations, is a term that describes all the Indigenous peoples in Canada who are the direct descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada prior to European contact.

First Nations peoples are distinct from Inuit and Métis peoples.

First Nations (Indian) people are one of three groups of people recognized as Aboriginal in the Constitution Act, 1982.

Many First Nations peoples find the term “Indian” outdated and offensive. They prefer the term “First Nation”. Unfortunately the word “Indian” is forever engrained in many of our country’s laws and institutions including the Indian Act, Historical Treaties, and of course the Canadian Constitution.

In Canada there currently over 640 recognized First Nations. They all have different languages, histories and cultures. First Nations peoples are spread across all the provinces.

Historically First Nations peoples have been grouped into 6 geographical areas based on their traditional cultures: Arctic, Sub-Arctic, Northwest Coast, Plateau, Great Plains, and Northeast.

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