This page provides resources by and about Native Americans (sometimes known as American Indians) and indigenous peoples of the United States. Use the tabs to find recommended resources related to this subject area. The UD community is welcome to suggest resources, guides or other information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Native Americans are peoples indigenous to the United States. The terms “Alaska Natives” and “Native Hawaiians” refer to peoples indigenous to those specific locations. Native American tribal governments have specific political relationships with the U.S. government. As of 2021, there are 574 federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native tribes and villages. More information about Native American tribes can be found in Tribal Nations and the United States: An Introduction, issued by the National Congress of American Indians, and the frequently asked questions page of the website of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The United Nations provides an exceptional explanation of this topic. The text below is taken from the Indigenous People, Indigenous Voices Fact Sheet.
It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants - according to a common definition - of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. The new arrivals later became dominant through conquest, occupation, settlement or other means.
Among the indigenous peoples are those of the Americas (for example, the Lakota in the USA, the Mayas in Guatemala or the Aymaras in Bolivia), the Inuit and Aleutians of the circumpolar region, the Saami of northern Europe, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand. These and most other indigenous peoples have retained distinct characteristics which are clearly different from those of other segments of the national populations.
Understanding the term “indigenous”
Considering the diversity of indigenous peoples, an official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by any UN-system body. Instead the system has developed a modern understanding of this term based on the following:
• Self-identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their member
• Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies
• Strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
• Distinct social, economic or political systems
• Distinct language, culture and beliefs
• Form non-dominant groups of society
• Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities.