First American Art Magazine is a magazine for a general readership, not an academic journal. Articles should be a pleasure to read. Writing should be concise, specific, and active. Any quotes and controversial information should be cited. We will never knowingly print factually incorrect information, so speculative statements should be qualified.
American English is the default language (so color instead of colour, theater not theatre, etc.). Use Merriam-Webster when in doubt about any words that aren’t listed here. A trend in art writing is to add unnecessary hyphens; consult Merriam-Webster.
Warning: Do not pair the terms traditional and contemporary; they are trite and create a false dichotomy. Find more precise pairings, e.g., historical and contemporary, or use new terms that aren’t clichés. Minimize the use of tradition and traditional due to their vagueness and overuse. [The term can be used when discussing Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK), since this is an international legal concept.]
FAAM commits to never knowingly printing an untrue statement. Artists frequently say that there are no words for art in Indigenous languages; this is empirically false. Do repeat this sentiment; it will be removed.
Myth and mythic imply fiction. Be extremely careful with the usage of these and related terms. Do not describe immortals or tribes’ oral histories as myths or mythology.
Almost every artist we cover is “award-winning.” Please find more specific ways to describe an artist’s accomplishments.
North America includes 23 independent countries and 23 territories. If you are discussing only Canada and the United States, do not use the term “North America,” because you are leaving out the majority of the nations and the majority of its Indigenous peoples.
Abbreviations | Bylines | Captions | Citations | Contact Info | Dates | Degrees | Names | Numbers | Plurals |
Profanity | Punctuation | Quotations | Specific Terms | Titles of Artwork, Etc. | Tribal Affiliations
- 1 Abbreviations
- 2 Bylines
- 3 Capitalization
- 4 Captions
- 5 Citations
- 6 Contact Information
- 7 Dates and Time
- 8 Degrees/Academic Titles
- 9 Article Titles
- 10 Names
- 11 Numbers
- 12 Plurals
- 13 Profanity, aka the “Jason Asenap” rule
- 14 Punctuation
- 15 Quotations
- 16 Specific Terms and Phrases
- 17 Titles of Artwork, Exhibitions, Etc.
- 18 Tribal Affiliations
- 19 Non-Native cultural affiliations
- 2D and 3D instead of 2-D or 3-D
- Can$[amount] (e.g. Can$1,200) for Canadian dollars
- Circa: ca. not c. (to avoid confusion with copyright)
- Acronyms for college degrees have no periods: AA, BFA, MFA, PhD, etc.
- Et cetera: etc.
- f-stop is lowercase with a hyphen, instead of a slash, but f-stop measurements are with a slash, e.g. f/8 and f/11.
- Fig. is capitalized and abbreviated in parenthetical clauses; spelled out Figure in sentences. Use of Figures in captions is discouraged.
- States and Provinces are spelled out in headlines and subheadings.
- Versus: vs. not v.
- US instead of U.S. or USA or U.S.A. “US” as an adjective, “United States” as a noun
- Two-letter postal codes for states/provinces do not have periods, eg. NM, OK, QC, BC, AM, and MG. Spell out states and provinces in prose. Okay to use two-letter codes in calendar listings.
Bylines appear below the title in profiles, interviews, and feature articles. By is capitalized. Since author bios are no longer listed, tribal affiliations are listed in bylines.
In reviews, reports, and memorials, bylines go at the end and have a space, an em-dash, and the author’s name in italics, e.g., —Jane Q. Public (Sycamore Tribe).
Art movements and styles such as Social Realism, Flatstyle, Woodland School, Bacone School, Outsider Art, etc., are capitalized. Eras, such as modernism and post-modernism, are left lowercase, as is new media.
Indigenous and Native are capitalized when referring to people but not when referring to a non-human being from a particular region, e.g. blue flax is native to Montana.
Authors may choose to capitalize Ancestors or Elders or not. The capitalization just has to stay consistent throughout the article.
Clan names in Indigenous languages are capitalized, the clan name in English is capitalized, and the word clan is left lowercase, i.e. Naaneesht’ézhi Tábaahí (Zuni Water’s Edge clan) or Anigategewi (Wild Potato clan).
In interviews, when someone laughs, capitalization of the word [laughs] is contingent on the positioning the sentence, i.e. if it precedes the sentence, it is capitalized. If it stands alone, it is written: [Laughs.]
graffiti/street artists’ tags (e.g. SABA), Argentium, art movements, Chac Mool, Chilcat, Chief Blanket, Indian Country, Indigenous when referring to people, Manitou, Mountie, Mylar, Paleo-Indians, Plexiglas, Ravenstail, T-shirt, known geographical regions (e.g. the Southwest or Northern California), Navajo chants (e.g. Blessingway), Ravenstail, section titles of art exhibitions, and Western (as in Occident, e.g. Western civilization).
Book appendices and chapters (e.g. chapter four); basket craze; eyedazzler; formline; heather ahtone; indigenous when referring to plants or fungi, jingle dance or jingle dress, new genres/new media, rez, sci-fi, settler, or the word site in the names of archaeological sites.
Our captions loosely follow the style guide of the AAE but are simplified.
DIRECTION (in all small caps, bold: ABOVE, BELOW, BOTTOM, LEFT, RIGHT, COVER, OPPOSITE, TOP) Artist Name (Tribal Affiliation, dates if deceased), Title of Work, from Name of Series series, year completed, media on support, dimensions height × width × depth in., edition #/#, location (if public artwork, land art, etc.), collection of [museum collection], city, state/province, country if outside the United States or Canada, accession number. Image courtesy of XXX. Photo: Credit (© Company or CC license).
- COVER: Nani Chacon (Navajo), Reclamation: Manifestations of Changing Woman, 2012, oil on panel, 24 × 24 in. Image courtesy of the artist.
- ABOVE: Ancestral Yuman peoples, Blythe Intaglios, ca. 668–1158 CE, monumental male human-like figure, quadruped, and spiral geoglyphs, Blythe, California. Aerial photo: Jim Wark (© Airphoto).
If a work is untitled, italicized the word Untitled in the caption.
Measurements: We use inches and fractions, e.g. 8⅔.
Spell out the word century if it appears in the dates.
All captions end with a period.
Generally “figures” should be avoided in captions. These are articles, not books, so readers can most likely find the image in question.
We use Chicago-style footnotes (Purdue OWL is a great resource). In submitted Word documents, writers should use brackets  instead of actual superscript numbers 1 in manuscripts, and footnotes should be placed at the end of the document. Don’t use Microsoft Word’s footnotes tool. This helps with the transfer from Word to InDesign.
With web citations, we deviate from Chicago by using the term “web” instead of printing the entire URL. Examples:
- Eliza Gregory, “Joi Arcand—Plains Cree,” Contemporary North American Indigenous Artists, March 11, 2012, web.
Gregory, Eliza. “Joi Arcand—Plains Cree.” Contemporary North American Indigenous Artists. March 11, 2012. Web.
- Phone Numbers: US phone number will be in the format (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Any phone number outside the United States should be preceded by its country, e.g. +1 (xxx) xxx-xxx.
- Our address: 133 24th Avenue NW #126, Norman, OK 73069.
Dates and Time
Use the format July 6, 2012, instead of 6 June 2012 or 6.June.2012. For month and year only, use no punctuation. For a date that occurs in the middle of a sentence, use a comma after the day and year.
- In June 2012 I won the award.
- June 6, 2012, was a horrible day in history.
Birth and death dates can be listed (1904–1984). For living artists, use (b. 1904) instead of (1904– ), since the latter looks like someone is waiting for the artist to die.
- CE and BCE instead of AD and BC. Both CE and BCE follow the years (3,000 BCE).
- Arabic numerals for ordinals over twelfth: Use 20th century instead of twentieth century.
- 1900s refers only to the first decade of the 20th century. Write 20th century if referring to the entire century.
- A decade doesn’t have an apostrophe before the s: 1860s, not 1860’s.
With time, follow Chicago style with hours and minutes separated by a colon, followed by a space, and then am or pm (no periods), e.g.: 10:00 am, 2:30 pm, etc.
Academic degrees: Per the Chicago Manual of Style, degrees are lowercase when written out.
- James Luna earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the University of California, Irvine.
- He introduced James Luna, bachelor of fine arts.
Academic Degree Abbreviations: Capitalized, no periods (MFA, BFA, PhD)
If a person has a doctoral degree, list it after her or his name in a contributing writer’s biography or in the first mention of her or his name in an article. Alfred Young Man, PhD (Cree), taught at the University of Lethbridge.
Academic Programs: if general terms, lowercase; if referring to a specific school’s program or class capitalized, e.g., art history, Indigenous Liberal Studies, etc.
Bachelor’s and master’s degrees both require apostrophes. Bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of fine arts, and doctor of philosophy in art history have no apostrophe.
Abbreviations | Bylines | Captions | Citations | Contact Info | Dates | Degrees | Names | Numbers | Plurals | Profanity | Punctuation | Quotations | Specific Terms | Titles of Artwork, Etc. | Tribal Affiliations
Artist Interviews/Profiles.: Titles include tribal affiliation, media, and name of the artist, e.g. “Inuk Silis Høegh: Kalaalleq Filmmaker and Interdisciplinary Artist.” Byline is listed below the title. Websites are listed at the end.
Memorials. The most recognizable name is listed, then the birth and death dates. The full name, if different then the name in the title, is listed in the first paragraph, along with the person’s tribal affiliation. Bylines are at the end with a space, em-dash, and italicized author’s name.
Reviews, Book. The review begins with the title of the book, “By” author’s or editor’s name, publisher’s name, year of publication.ylines are at the end with a space, em-dash, and italicized author’s name.
Reviews, Exhibition. The review begins with the city of the exhibition. State, province, and/or country are listed only if the city is not immediately recognizable. Then the title of the exhibition is listed, followed by the venue. Bylines are at the end with a space, em-dash, and italicized author’s name.
No comma before “Jr.” or “Sr.”, e.g., Roy Boney Jr. and Daniel McCoy Jr.
If someone is a Native PhD, the PhD should be listed before the tribal affiliation, e.g. Joe Schmoe, PhD (Paskenta Nomlaki).
Some individuals prefer lowercase, such as dg smalling and heather ahtone (also grunt gallery).
Try to remove hyphens in Indian names.
When an artist is deceased, list their cultural/tribal affiliation, then birth and death dates, e.g. Diego Quispe Tito (Quechua, 1611–1681).
Unless there is a specific reason to use Kiowa Five, the term Kiowa Six is preferred.
Spell out numbers zero through twelve. Use a numeral for numbers 13 and higher, unless they begin a sentence. Hundred, thousand, and million can be spelled out.
- Insert a comma in numerals with four or more digits, e.g., 1,396 (except in years).
- Ordinals: no superscript.
- Determining whether even numbers should be Arabic or spelled out: twenties, thirties, etc., instead of 20s, 30s, etc. An exception might be if decades are being described.
Units of measurement (Chicago 8.15) in running text should be spelled out. When more than two units of measurement appear together in the text, use numerals with abbreviations (e.g., 9 g, 10 mph).
- helixes not helices
- hösig di is both a singular and plural
- huipiles is the plural of huipil, not huipils
- Inuit is the plural of Inuk
- inuksuit is the plural of inuksuk
- Iñupiat is the plural of Iñupiaq
- Media is the plural of medium
- Kalaallit is the plural of Kalaalleq
- Passamaquoddies is the plural of Passamaquoddy, not Passamaquoddys
- Pottery can be singular and plural; do not use potteries, except when referring to multiple companies or towns that manufacture ceramics (typically in England)
- Steles is the plural of stele (The term is Greek, not Latin.)
- Still lifes is the plural of still life, not still lives
- Unangan (Eastern) and Unangas (Western) is the plural of Unangax̂ or Aleut
- Yupiit is the plural of Yupik.
Besides singular and plural, northern languages often have terms to two of something. When referring to a singular artist’s tribal affiliation, use the singular term.
Profanity, aka the “Jason Asenap” rule
Since FAAM is read in schools and reaches a diverse audience, we are not enthusiastic about gratuitous profanity. Typically curse words can be deleted or abbreviated to their first letter followed by an em-dash, e.g. f—er, s—hole. If the word is part of the title of an exhibition, artwork, or series, it can be spelled out completely. Random punctuation can be substituted (%$&#) if the intent is humorous.
Only one space after punctuation, since the fonts are all designed to create extra space (don’t worry, we can make the changes in MS Word if you are a two-space typist).
Oxford commas/serial commas. In a list of three or more items, use a comma after each, such as here, here, and here.
Commas after clauses. In a compound sentence, use a comma before the coordinating conjunction (but, and, so, etc.); use a semicolon and comma with adverbial conjunctions (therefore, however, finally, etc.).
- I missed the bus, so I was late.
- I missed the bus; therefore, I was late.
Punctuation falls within quotations marks: “There is where the comma goes,” and that’s how we roll.
When listing a specific campus location after a college/university’s name, use a comma, not an en-dash, e.g. University of Alaska, Sitka, or Diné College, Chinlé.
In prose, spoken and written dialogue is placed inside quotation marks. Single quotations marks are reserved for quotations within quotations. Thoughts and internal dialogues are italicized.
Quotations from written text should always be cited, unless they are quotes from a book in a book review. Quotations spoken or emailed directly from the source to the author can be footnoted or cited in-line.
Any quotation—from a book, discussion, or other source—that is more than 100 words should be placed in a block text, which is italicized. The block text is indented 0.0625 inches on the left and right sides, with 0.0625 inches in spaced before and after. No quotations marks are necessary.
In question-and-answer formats, the interviewer’s dialogue is bolded. The interviewee’s dialogue is left plain.
Specific Terms and Phrases
Non-English words: Personal nouns, especially given names, do not need to be italicized. Italicize non-English words if they are not commonly used (Use Merriam-Webster for reference; if the word is in that dictionary, it does not require italicization). If the same word is used repeatedly in the same article, only italicize the first time it appears.
Use diacritical marks when needed in Indigenous words: hózhó, not hozho.
Glottal stops: Use IPA glottal stop symbol not question marks, e.g. Núh Kaʔáwshan not Núh Ka?áwshan.
Non-English place names: If an artist or author wants to use an Indigenous name (e.g. Dinetah instead of Navajo Nation, Aotearoa instead of New Zealand), that is fine. Just make the meaning clear to a general audience. Please do not use French or Spanish spellings/diacritics when an English spelling is readily available (e.g. don’t use Québec, Montréal, or México).
List of terms and phrases
- 3D printing not 3-D printing or three-dimensional printing
- acknowledgment not acknowledgement (the latter is British spelling)
- Adena—try to avoid using since this archaeological designation is falling out of favor
- aha not a-ha
- among not amongst
- anticolonial not anti-colonial
- archaeologist, archaeological, and archaeology rather than archeologist, archeological, and archeology
- artifact not artefact
- award-winning not awardwinning or award winning as an adjective (but try to avoid this term)
- B.Yellowtail, period, no spaces, also B.Yellowtail Collective
- backward and forward not backwards and forwards
- basket weaver not basketweaver (although basket maker is preferred since weaving is only a small part of the basket making process)
- braintan and braintanned not brain tan or brain-tan
- beadwork/beadworker not bead work/bead worker
- beargrass not bear grass or bear-grass
- birchbark is one word, as per Merriam-Webster
- Blessingway, single word, capitalized
- blond not blonde; no gender distinctions with this term
- breechcloth not breechclout or breech-cloth
- catalogue not catalog; cataloguing not cataloging
- ceramicist not ceramist; ceramic artist is also used
- Chac Mool (capitalized) instead of chacmool or chac-mool
- Chief Blanket not chief blanket, chief’s blanket, or Chief’s Blanket
- The Ciri Foundation capitalizes the The.
- co-chair not cochair (just because it looks weird)
- co-curator not cocurator (also because it looks weird)
- cofound not co-found (typically the suffix co- doesn’t require a hyphen unless preceding an O, unless the suffix produces confusion in pronunciation)
- collectible not collectable
- concha not concho when referring to hammered, metal discs
- co-write and co-written not cowrite or cowritten (again, looks odd—like cows are engaging the occult)
- cradleboard not cradle board
- Cuzco not Cusco
- dialogue not dialog
- digital C-print not digital C print, Digital C-print, or digital c-print (use hypen, only C is capitalized)
- druzy not druse or drusy
- eBay not Ebay or E-bay
- eBook use camelcase, no hyphen
- email not Email or e-mail
- Emily Carr School of Art + Design not Emily Carr School of Art and Design
- Enemyway, single word, capitalized; same for Beautyway, Evilway, Holyway, Lifeway, Mountainway, Nightway, and Shootingway
- eyedazzler not eye dazzler or eye-dazzler
- fingerweaving instead of finger weaving or finger-weaving
- fish skin not fishskin or fish-skin (as a noun. An adjective, e.g. fish-skin parka, would require a hyphen.)
- flautist not flutist
- flyer not flier
- formline (not capitalized midsentence) not Formline or form-line
- forward not forwards (as a direction, not as in multiple introductions to books)
- frybread is one word.
- giclée not Giclée or giclee
- giveaway is a noun. If you are describing an action, use two words: give away.
- grave house appears in literature as two separate words.
- grey not gray, greyscale not grayscale
- hand game is two words as a noun, only hyphenated as an adjective, e.g hand-game tournament.
- hairpipe not hair pipe or hair-pipe
- hawk bell not hawkbell or hawk-bell
- heartline not heart-line or heart line
- heishi not heishe
- hide when discussing deer or buffalo hide not leather (use this to describe commercially processed cowhide or goathide)
- hip hop (space, no hyphen) is a noun, hip-hop (hyphenated) is an adjective. Lowercase.
- an historian or an historical not a historian or a historical
- horsehair, one word as an adjective
- hösig di not Hösig Di or Hosig Di. This Embera-language term is both a singular and plural.
- huipiles is the plural of huipil not huipils
- hyperpictorial not hyper-pictorial
- imageNative Film & Media Arts Festival
- Inca not Incan
- inkjet not ink jet or ink-jet
- interdisciplinary instead of inter-disciplinary or multidisciplinary
- inuksuk not inukshuk (also: inuksuit is plural)
- J.Okuma has no space between the period and the O
- jingle dance and jingle dress are lowercase
- Job’s-tears instead of job’s tears or jobs tears (i.e. capitalize and use a hyphen)
- Juncus is a common name for rushes used Southern California basketry also well as a genus, so, unless it is used specifically as the genus, it is acceptable to leave it romanized and lowercase.
- katsina (katsinam plural) is preferred over kachina/kachinas, unless a carver uses kachina (in their quotes, art titles, or other conversations), then his preference is followed. Use katsina figure instead of kachina dolls.
- katsin tihu does not require a hyphen in the noun form
- Kha Po Owingeh for the Tewa name of Santa Clara Pueblo
- khipu not quipu
- Mayan language not Maya language
- Maya people instead of Mayan people (Mayan primarily refers to the language not the people or cultures)
- Manitou should be capitalized.
- mat board not matboard
- matchcoat not match coat
- media is the plural of medium, as opposed to mediums
- mokume gane not mokume-gane or Mokume Gane (not italicized)
- mollusk not mollusc
- moosehair, one word as an adjective (moosehair tufting)
- moundbuilder, uncapitalized, not mound builder or mound-builder
- Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne with hyphens for town
- multistone not multi-stone
- Mylar should be capitalized.
- Nazca not Nasca
- National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center with no comma between Indian and George. If the National Museum of the American Indian has already been introduced in an article, it can be shortened to NMAI George Gustav Heye Center. On subsequent mentions, it can be shortened to the Heye Center, not NMAIGGHC.
- okay not ok or O.K.
- Paleo-Indians (hyphenated with both P and I capitalized) not paleo-Indians, paleoindians, or Paleoindians.
- papier-mâché not papier mache (both noun and adjective forms have hyphens)
- Passamaquoddies is the plural of Passamaquoddy, not Passamaquoddys.
- photoshoot instead of photo shoot or photo-shoot
- plainware not plain ware or plain-ware
- pleaded not pled
- Plexiglas (capitalized) instead of plexiglass, PlexiGlas, or plexiGlass
- pine nut not pinenut or pine-nut
- plebeian not plebian
- plow not plough
- PM Waterlily, no periods
- Postclassic period (in Mesoamerican chronology) not Post-classic or Post-classic
- post-contact not postcontact
- postdoctoral not post-doctoral
- precontact not pre-contact
- readymade, as in found art objects, one word, no hyphen
- rock ’n’ roll, with spaces, instead of rock-n-roll, rock and roll, etc.
- roofs not rooves
- ribbonwork not ribbon work or ribbon-work
- rivercane not river cane
- sandhill crane not sand hill crane or sand-hill crane
- sandpainting is a single word whether a noun or a verb
- sci-fi not sci fi or Sci-Fi
- screen printing instead of screen-printing or screenprinting. Also serigraphy or silk-screen printing.
- shepherding not sheepherding
- sherd not shard when discussed a pottery fragment
- Songòopavi not Shongopovi, Songoopavi, or Shungopovi
- Ski-Doo (brand name) not skidoo
- skill set not skillset
- sight lines not sightlines
- smartphone not smart phone
- SpongeBob SquarePants is camelcase.
- Starship Enterprise instead of USS Enterprise, since there is a US Navy aircraft carrier named Enterprise
- stele and steles not stela and stelae or stelæ (The term is Greek not Latin.)
- still lifes is the plural of still life, not still lives
- Studio School and Studio Style are both acceptable, with both terms capitalized
- sweetgrass not sweet grass or sweet-grass
- terracotta not terra cotta
- tempera is a vague term; if possible, clarify whether distemper (poster paint) or egg tempera is being discussed
- toward not towards
- type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes use numerals. These terms are preferable to childhood diabetes or adult-onset diabetes.
- type site not type-site or typesite
- Walmart not Wal-Mart or Wal-mart
- waterbird (written lowercase mid-sentence) is one word when discussing the symbol used in the Native American Church, but not when discussing actual birds.
- whimsy not whimsey, in regards to beaded, soft sculpture
- Woodblock is a single word when describing a print. Wood block is two words when describing the physical, carved block of wood to make the print.
- workbasket not work basket or work-basket
- World War I (and World War II) not World War 1 or World War One
- X-Acto knife not an of the infinite variations possible on this brand name
Titles of Artwork, Exhibitions, Etc.
- Art shows are italicized, e.g. Changing Hands 3.
- Art fairs/markets/biennials are not italicized, e.g. Santa Fe Indian Market
- Book titles, artwork titles, art exhibitions, series of works, and film titles are all italicized.
- Sections within art exhibitions are capitalized but not italicized.
- Titles of chapters, articles, or essays within books or other publications are placed in quotation marks.
In prose, we list tribal or cultural affiliations for Indigenous artists of the Americas. A person with multiple Indigenous ancestries will have the sovereign Indigenous nation of which they are enrolled member first, followed by the groups of which they have ancestry. If a person is enrolled in more than one tribe, FAAM’s follows that person’s preference in which tribe to list first.
Indigenous identities other than of the Americas can be listed, depending upon author’s preference.
FAAM strikes a balance between accuracy, brevity, consistency, and personal choice. We want to use the shortest possible term to accurately convey the precise tribe while honoring the individual’s preference. Shorten specific tribes enough that the specific tribe is still clear, e.g. Turtle Mountain Chippewa or Mississippi Choctaw.
List an artist’s tribal affiliation after the first mention of her or his name in parentheses. The tribal affiliation only has to be listed once an article; it doesn’t have to be repeated. Example: Mabel McKay (Long Valley Pomo/Patwin) was a basket maker. McKay was also a healer.
When someone uses an autonym that is not immediately recognizable, the common name can be placed in brackets, i.e., James Luna (Puyukitchum [Luiseño]). Authors can opt to use either Diné or Navajo in an article, just be consistent throughout.
Legal names of US tribes taken from the Federal Registrar can be found at Alaska Native tribal entities and US federally recognized tribes. Ethnologue is good general source for current names of ethnic groups in the Americas.
No living person should be described as simply being Cherokee. List the actual enrolled tribe, Eastern Band Cherokee, Cherokee Nation, or Keetoowah Cherokee (for enrolled members of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians). If a person is not enrolled in a Cherokee tribe but has documented Cherokee ancestry, she or he is listed as Cherokee descent. If the person widely claims Cherokee ancestry but it remains undocumented but plausible, the person is listed as self-identified Cherokee descent. If the person has claimed Cherokee ancestry but it is not documented or plausible, no tribal affiliation will be listed.
Terms for indigenous peoples of the Americas
Aboriginal Peoples of Canada refers to First Nations, Métis, and Canadian Inuit peoples.
Alaska Natives refers to Indigenous peoples of Alaska, which include Iñupiat (Inuit), Yupiit, Unangax, and American Indian peoples, such as Athabascan and Tlingit peoples.
American Indian refers to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas who are not Inuit, Yupiit, and Aleut. It is not a preferred term in Canada and does not refer to all Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
First Nations are the Indigenous peoples of Canada who are not Métis or Inuit. They include people whose languages are Algonquian, Athabascan, Haida, Iroquois, Kutenai, Salish, Siouan, Tsimshian, and Wakashan.
Mestizo refers to people of mixed Indigenous and Iberian descent and does not need to be capitalized mid-sentence.
Métis are a specific ethnic group descended from European-Canadian and First Nation peoples, often French-Canadians and Cree, Ojibwe, and Salteaux peoples. The Métis Nation was formed in the Red River region of Manitoba.
Native American often, but not always, refers to Indigenous peoples of what is now the United States and includes American Indians and Alaskan Natives and sometimes Native Hawaiians.
Native and Indigenous are capitalized, and black, white, etc. are lowercase. Hyphenate non-Native and non-Indigenous.
Try to avoid the term Eskimo unless there is a compelling reason to use the term (name of historic entity, name of artwork). Never use the term “Digger Indian.”
Only use “Pit River Tribe” when specifically discussing that federally recognized tribe; otherwise disambiguate. Try to disambiguate between Northern and Southern Paiute people.
- Métis has an accent over the e.
- Don’t use Sioux if possible. Disambiguate between Lakota, Dakota, and Nakoda.
- Don’t use Iroquois if possible. List actual tribe or use Haudenosaunee, preferred over League of the Iroquois.
- Native American typically refers to the people Indigenous to what is now the United States. American Indian does not include Inuit, Ungangan/s, Yupiit, Métis, or Native Hawaiian peoples.
- Use Inuit singular and plural forms: Cup’iq/Cup’it, Inuk/Inuit, Iñupiaq/Iñupiat, Kalaalleq/Kalaallit, Tupilaq/Tupliit.
- Iñupiaq and Iñupiat have a tilde over the n. The language is Iñupiaq.
- Use Inca and Maya not Incan or Mayan, unless discussing Mayan languages.
As a rule of thumb, use the term preferred by the community, and try to be as specific as possible.
Mississippian Ideological Interactive Sphere or Mississippian cultures is preferred over Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Never use Southern Cult or Southern Death Cult.
With Brazilian tribes, the English or Spanish spelling is preferred over Portuguese, i.e., use k rather than c. Don’t use the terms Macu or Maku. Find another term for the tribe.
|Preferred Spelling of Ethnic Group||To Avoid (Only Use for a Compelling Reason)|
|Ancestral Pueblo people||Anasazi, Ancient Puebloan people|
|Cherokee [always disambiguate]||Tsalagi or Aniyvniwa (which should be Aniyvniwaʔi anyway)|
|Caddo, Ancestral Caddo, Caddoan language speakers||Caddoan|
|Kewa Pueblo||Santo Domingo Pueblo|
|K’iche’ Maya||Quiché Maya|
|Koasati||Coushatta or Quassarte; when discussing a specific federally recognized tribe, use the tribe’s spelling|
|Kwakwaka’wakw||Kwakiutl, Kwakwaka’wakw (without diacritics)|
|Mniconjou (unless a Minconjou person prefers an alternate spelling)||Miniconjou, Minniconjou, Minicoujou, MinnicoujouMnicoujou|
|Muscogee or Mvskoke, when listing a tribal affiliation. Muscogee Creek Nation when describing the federally recognized tribe.||Creek|
|Nahua||Aztec, which is reserved for the Aztec Empire|
|Ohkay Owingeh||San Juan Pueblo|
|Ojibwe (default)||Chippewa (only use if the person’s tribe uses this term), Ojibwa, Ojibway, Anishinaabe (use this when the actual tribe is unknown)|
|Sami or Lapp
|Wyandot, if just a general term||Wyandotte only when the Wyandotte Nation is being discussed|
|Yup’ik (with an accent)||refers to Central Alaska Yup’ik|
|Yupik (without an accent)||refers to St. Lawrence Yupik or Siberian Yupik|
Non-Native cultural affiliations
Use hyphens in terms like African-American, Asian-Canadian, and European-American.