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American Indian Movement
a social and political organization with many local chapters around the United States of activist Native people focused on confronting the federal and state governments over racist policies and actions. AIM was most active in the 1970s and 1980s.
of or relating to a spiritual belief that everything in the world has its own living spirit.
the process of changing the culture of a person or group of people to some other culture, through socialization or education.
an art form of many Indigenous peoples, created from woven plant matter. Each tribe has its own traditions and styles, with some tribes using many styles.
blood quantum
a term first applied by the US federal government to determine which people had rights to services and land at reservations. The term has become a characteristic to define who is eligible for citizenship in a tribe, with membership open only to those who have a minimum blood quantum of Indigenous genealogical ancestry.
boarding schools
educational institutions established by federal authorities to efficiently educate and assimilate Indigenous children through an immersive environment.
Indian Claims
a series of more than 700 lawsuits brought by tribal nations in the 20th century against the US federal government to demand repayment for failures in the administration of a variety of responsibilities.
Indian mascots
characterizations of a Native person or group used to represent athletic teams, often portraying savage or cartoonish stereotypes. The practice is considered highly racist toward Native peoples.
a commonly used term for Native Americans first applied by Christopher Columbus, who mistakenly thought the Indigenous peoples he encountered were people of India.
Indigenous peoples
the original populations of a land and those who carry culture and experiences from an Indigenous culture. Indigenous peoples may also be referred to as Native peoples, tribal peoples, tribes, First Nations peoples, Aboriginal peoples, or American Indians or Native Americans.
the Indigenous peoples of New Zealand.
Marshall court trilogy
three Supreme Court decisions—Johnson v. M’Intosh (1823), Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), and Worcester v. Georgia (1832)—that determined that tribal nations are domestic sovereign nations within the United States and dependent on the federal government to guarantee their sovereignty.
Latin American term for a person of mixed heritage, normally Indigenous and Spanish or Indigenous and another White ethnicity.
Canadian term for a person of partial Indigenous heritage. A Métis person has different rights from a First Nations person.
Native studies
an educational discipline that originated from the critiques of studies of tribal communities by non-Native scholars. Native studies programs seek to center Indigenous knowledge and experience in studies of Indigenous peoples and societies.
noble savages
a romanticist term used to suggest that Native peoples were uncivilized and primitive, living in harmony with nature.
oral histories
spoken, rather than written, narratives of past events.
oral tradition
cultural knowledge that is passed on through oral, rather than written, form.
images carved into stone and sometimes painted.
drawings on the wall of a cave or rock shelter or on animal hide.
public anthropologists
anthropologists who work to make their research, analysis, and products available to the public through publication and presentation of their work in public, easily accessible places.
lands given to Indigenous tribes as supposedly permanent places for their communities to live and practice their culture, usually through treaty or executive order.
a US federal policy adopted in 1953 that involved voiding the treaty agreements between the federal government and Native peoples, enabling the government to repossess and sell property that had been part of reservations in a process called liquidation. Terminated tribal peoples are no longer federally recognized Native peoples and have no rights to ask for federal services or assistance. Between 1954 and the 1970s, 109 tribes underwent termination. Most were federally restored between the 1970s and the 1990s.
Trade and Intercourse Acts
federal laws that administer trade between states and across federal borders. The law affects the ability of Native nations to establish industries and sell products or services beyond their borders.
agreements between sovereign entities, in this context Native nations and the United States.
urban Indian
a Native person who lives in an urban environment; sometimes a negative title used by those living on reservations to refer to Native people who are assumed to have willingly given up their culture, land, and Native identities.
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