Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

FAAM Style Guide

Mesoamerican grammar policeFirst 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 or controversial information should be cited.

American English is the default language (so color not 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. For instance, nonprofit has no hyphen.

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 these words’ vagueness and overuse. Note: The term can be used when discussing Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK) since this is an international legal concept. More on this subject.

FAAM commits to never knowingly printing an untrue statement. Speculative statements should be qualified. Artists frequently say that there are no words for art in Indigenous languages; this is empirically false. Do not repeat this sentiment; it will be removed.

Myth and mythic imply fiction, as does the word legend. 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 |
ProfanityPunctuation | Quotations | Specific Terms | Titles of Artwork, Etc. | Tribal Affiliations


  • 2D and 3D instead of 2-D or 3-D
  • a.k.a. with periods but no spaces in between letters
  • 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., as per CMS 7.15.
  • Etc.: et cetera
  • f-stop is lowercase with a hyphen, instead of a slash, but numeric 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. The use of Figures in captions is discouraged.
  • Mike not mic for microphone (due to challenges of terms like miked, miking, etc.)
  • 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. Using two-letter codes in calendar listings is fine.


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, Ledger Art, 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 AncestorsElders, or the Earth 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 archaeological place names, the term site is not capitalized, e.g. Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

In interviews, when someone laughs, capitalization of the word [laughs] is contingent on the positioning of the sentence, i.e. if it precedes the sentence, it is capitalized. If it stands alone, it is written: [Laughs.]

Directions in recognized geographic locations are capitalized (Northern California, the Southwest) while uncommonly discussed geographic locations are not (northern Kentucky, south-central Alberta), as per CMS 8.47. Cultural regions are capitalized (Northern Plains, Southeastern Woodlands).

COVID-19 is all caps, more

Google is capitalized as a noun but lowercase when used as a verb (despite being a brand name, it has entered the English language).

Pueblo is capitalized when discussing a tribe, ethnic group, or culture. It is lowercased when discussing a physical settlement. When coupled with a name, Pueblo becomes part of a proper noun and is capitalized. Example: After leaving San Ildefonso Pueblo, she drove to a neighboring pueblo to attend a Pueblo feast day and sample Pueblo bread.

Do Capitalize

Argentium, art movements, Black when referring to people (AP standard), Chac Mool, Chief Blanket, Chilkat, graffiti/street artists’ tags (e.g. SABA), Indian CountryIndigenous when referring to people, Manitou, MountieMylarPaleo-Indians, Plexiglas, Ravenstail, T-shirt, known geographical regions (e.g. the Southwest or Northern California), Navajo chants (e.g. Blessingway), Pagan, Ravenstail, Sun Dance, section titles of art exhibitions, and Western (as in Occidental, e.g. Western civilization).

Don’t Capitalize

Book appendices and chapters (e.g. chapter four); basket crazeeyedazzler;  formline; heather ahtone; indigeneity; indigenize; indigenous when referring to plants or fungi; jingle dance or jingle dress; new genres/new media; rez; sci-fi; settler; site in the names of archaeological sites; or white when referring to people (AP standard).

Don’t capitalize the mid-sentence unless the entity that is using the term insists upon it, e.g. The Magazine and The New York Times.

Cree languages when written in the Latin alphabet exclusively use lowercase (more), e.g. tânisi, kiya mâka? Cree proper nouns are also lowercase.


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: Photographer’s Name (© Company or CC license).


  • COVER: Nani Chacon (Navajo/Chicana), Reclamation: Manifestations of Changing Woman, 2012, oil on panel, 24 × 24 in. Image courtesy of the artist.
  • ABOVE: Ancestral Yuman artists, 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, italicize the word Untitled in the caption.

  • Measurements: We use inches and fractions with no space between the integer and fraction, e.g. 8⅔.
  • Spell out the word century if it appears in the dates.
  • All captions end with a period.


  • Title, year released, format (film, video, etc.), genre (drama, comedy, etc.), time length, directed by name(s) (tribal affiliation), distributor, country (if not from the United States).

Film/Video still:

  • Title, year released, film/video/etc., genre (drama, comedy, etc.), time length, directed by name (tribal affiliation), distributor, country (if not from the United States).
  • The Shirt, 2003, film still, short, 5:55 minutes, directed by Shelley Niro (Mohawk), featuring Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Navajo/Seminole/Muscogee).

Movie posters:

  • Title, year released, film poster, genre (drama, comedy, etc.), time length, directed by name (tribal affiliation), distributor, country (if not from the United States).
  • Kissed by Lightning, 2009, film poster, drama, 89 minutes, directed by Shelley Niro (Mohawk), Turtle Night Productions, Canada.
  • The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw, 2019, film poster, comedy, 94 minutes, directed by Shelley Niro (Mohawk).

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 [1] in the prose instead of actual superscript numbers (1) in manuscripts, and footnotes should be manually placed at the end of the document, with numerals and periods in front, e.g. 1. T. P. Creepingbear, email message to author, April 1, 2020. Don’t use Microsoft Word’s footnotes tool. This helps with the transfer from Word to InDesign.

Chicago style is moving away from passim and ibid. Use truncated notes instead of ibid.

With web citations, we deviate from Chicago by using the term “web” instead of printing the entire URL (but please list URL in your submitted manuscript to help the fact-checking process). Examples:


  1. 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.

Contact Information

  • Phone Numbers: US phone numbers will be in the format (###) ###-####. Do not use the ###.###.#### format. Any phone number outside the United States should be preceded by its country code, e.g. Canada would be +1 (###) ###-###. If a phone number has an extension use the format (###) ###-#### x###, e.g. (918) 456-6007 x6159
  • Our mailing address: 3334 W. Main St. #442, Norman, OK 73072.

Dates and Time

Use the format Month Day, Year, e.g. 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.
  • If only the last two numbers of a decade is used, insert an apostrophe to indicate the missing numbers: ’70s.
  • In birth and death dates list complete years, e.g. 1907–1983. However, in a series of dates for other purposes (e.g. runs of exhibitions), if both dates are in the same century, the century of the second date can be omitted, e.g. 1988–89. If the two dates are preceded by different numbers, they should be listed fully, e.g. 1999–2001.

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.

Degrees/Academic Titles

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 | ProfanityPunctuation | Quotations | Specific Terms | Titles of Artwork, Etc. | Tribal Affiliations

Article Titles

When a title and subtitle appear on the same line or are listed in the table of contents, insert a colon between them. When the title and subtitle appear on different lines and are formatted differently, a colon is not needed.
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 with any appropriate tribal affiliations. 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. Bylines 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.

Abbreviations | Bylines | Captions | Citations | Contact Info | Dates | Degrees | Names | Numbers | ProfanityPunctuation | Specific Terms | Titles of Artwork, Etc. | Tribal Affiliations


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 Manual of Style 9.16, 16th edition) 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).


  • apparatus is both singular and plural, not apparatuses
  • buffalo not buffaloes or buffalos.
  • helixes not helices
  • hösig di is both 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
  • manga is both singular and plural
  • matrices not matrixes
  • media is the plural of medium, not mediums
  • Kalaallit is the plural of Kalaalleq
  • Netsilingmiut is the plural of Netsilik
  • 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)
  • quail is the plural of quail, not quails
  • roofs not rooves
  • spectra not spectrums
  • squash is singular and plural, not squashes
  • steles is the plural of stele (The term is Greek, not Latin.)
  • still lifes is the plural of still life, not still lives
  • tithu is the plural of tihu
  • travois is both singular and plural
  • Unangan (Eastern) and Unangas (Western) is the plural of Unangax̂ or Aleut
  • Yupiit is the plural of Yup’ik, but is not used by Siberian Yupik.

Besides singular and plural, Circumpolar languages often have terms for 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 Microsoft Word, if you are a two-space typist).

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.


Use serial or Oxford commas. In a list of three or more items, use a comma after each, such as here, here, and here.

Place commas before the conjunctions of compound sentences. Do not place single commas between a subject and the second verb in a sentence with a single subject and a compound verb.

If a comma is used preceding a year or state/territory/province, it should be followed by one as well, e.g. On January 15, 1940, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith was born in St. Ignatius, Montana, on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Do not use commas for introductory adverbs or prepositional phrases with fewer than five words. Use Owl Purdue as a reference for commas after introductory elements.

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.


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.

In an artist profile, when the author has had a personal communication (in person, phone, email, or video chat) with the profiled artist, quotes do not necessarily have to be cited with footnotes. Quotations from published texts should be cited,  unless they are quotes from a book in a book review. In features= articles with numerous sources, quotations spoken or emailed directly from the source to the author can be footnoted or cited in-line.

Block text: Any quotation—from a book, discussion, or another source—that is more than 100 words should be placed in a block text, which is italicized.  The block text will have spaces before and after and will be indented on both sides. 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).

Specific 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)
  • axe not ax
  • B.Yellowtail, period, no spaces, also B.Yellowtail Collective
  • backward and forward not backwards and forwards
  • bandana not bandanna
  • basket weaver not basketweaver (although basket maker is preferred since weaving is only a small part of the basketmaking process)
  • braintan and braintanned not brain tan or brain-tan
  • beadwork not bead work
  • bead worker not beadworker
  • 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
  • bougie not boujee or bourgie
  • 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
  • chine-collé not chine collé or chine-colle
  • 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
  • commentor not commenter
  • concha not concho when referring to hammered, metal discs
  • cottongrass not cotton grass or cotton-grass
  • co-write and co-written not cowrite or cowritten (again, looks odd—like cows are engaging the occult)
  • crawfish not crayfish
  • 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 hyphen, only C is capitalized)
  • dipnet not dip net or dip-net
  • dipnetting not dip netting or dip-netting
  • dollmaker not doll maker or doll-maker
  • draftsperson not draftsmandrafter, or draughtsman
  • 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 forBeautyway, Evilway, Holyway, LifewayMountainway, Nightway, and Shootingway
  • eyedazzler not eye dazzler or eye-dazzler
  • fingerweaving instead of finger weaving or finger-weaving
  • First Americans Museum prefers to not use the in front of their name.
  • 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 (for a paper announcement)
  • formline (lowercase 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
  • Hastiin in Navajo has no diacritical marks.
  • 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 goat hide)
  • 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 singular and plural.
  • huipiles is the plural of huipil not huipils
  • hyperpictorial not hyper-pictorial
  • ice-cream bean tree not ice cream bean tree or ice-cream-bean tree
  • imageNative Film & Media Arts Festival 
  • Inca not Incan as an adjective
  • 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 in 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.
  • karat not K. Spell out the word in prose and use a hyphen in adjectival form, e.g. 24-karat gold, not 24K gold or 24 karat gold.
  • katsin tihu does not require a hyphen in the noun form
  • katsina (katsinam plural) is preferred over kachina (kachinas plural), 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.
  • Kha’po Owingeh not Kha Po Owingeh for the Tewa name of Santa Clara Pueblo, unless a tribal member being discussed adamantly prefers another spelling
  • khipu not quipu
  • livestream not live-stream or live stream
  • Mayan language not Maya language
  • Maya peoples 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
  • matrices not matrixes
  • media is the plural of medium, as opposed to mediums
  • minuscule not miniscule. The root word is minus as opposed to miniature.
  • mike for microphone not mic (because micedmics, and micing look odd)
  • 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.
  • Nasca not Nazca. The z comes from a typo in a 1941 Peruvian law and reflects Castillian spelling
  • 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.
  • photo shoot instead of photoshoot or photo-shoot
  • plainware not plain ware or plain-ware
  • pleaded not pled
  • Plexiglas (capitalized) instead of plexiglass, PlexiGlas, or plexiGlass
  • pine cone not pinecone
  • pine nut not pinenut or pine-nut
  • plebeian not plebian
  • plow not plough
  • PM Waterlily, no periods
  • policymaker not policy-maker or policy maker
  • polliwog not pollywog
  • Po’pay not Popé, unless the author has a compelling reason for the alternative spelling
  • 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
  • Sea lyme-grass not sea lyme grass or sea-lyme grass. The name refers to both Leymus arenarius and Leymus mollis and is the preferred term (as opposed to dune grass, American wild-rye grass, etc.)
  • 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 discussing a pottery fragment
  • skeptic not sceptic
  • Ski-Doo (brand name) not skidoo 
  • skill set not skillset
  • sight lines not sightlines
  • smartphone not smart phone
  • Songòopavi not Shongopovi, Songoopavi, or Shungopovi
  • 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
  • stomp dance (lowercase) not stompdance
  • stompground not stomp ground
  • stonecut and stonecut print, no space, no hyphen
  • storyknives can be written as a single word or as two words, story knives. The author just has to be consistent throughout the article.
  • 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 (paint with glue as its binder) or egg tempera is being discussed
  • toward not towards
  • Tsiiyéeł not tsiiyééł, tsiiyéel, or tsiiyéél
  • 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
  • wheatpaste not wheat paste or wheat-paste, as a noun, adjective, and verb
  • 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.
  • work basket not workbasket 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 many variations possible on this brand name
  • Yé’ii Bichei not any of the myriad variations, unless the author is Navajo and prefers another spelling

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.

Tribal and Cultural Affiliations

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 an enrolled member first, followed by the groups of which they have ancestry. If a person is enrolled in more than one tribe, FAAM follows that person’s preference in which tribe to list first.

Indigenous identities other than of the Americas are typically not listed.

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 in 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. Authors can also opt to use either Crow or Apsáalooke in an article; just be consistent throughout.



Never list a living person as simply Cherokee. List the specific tribe in which the person is enrolled, 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

Use accurate names of tribes. Don’t just tack Nation after the name of an ethnic group (e.g. there is no Kiowa Nation). Use the federal register for the current official names of US tribes.

Indigenous Peoples of Canada refers to First Nations, Métis, and Canadian Inuit peoples. The use of Aboriginal is growing less common.

Alaska Natives refers to Indigenous peoples of Alaska, which include Iñupiat (Inuit), Yupiit/Yupik peoples, Unangan, 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 Unangan. It is not a preferred term in Canada and does not refer to all Indigenous peoples of the Americas; however, many tribes in the United States use Indian in their official names for themselves, as is their right, so it is not up to outsiders to dictate what we call ourselves.

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. First Nations is also increasingly used to describe Indigenous peoples of Australia; however, the default assumption is that this term refers to Canadian people.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas refers to the Native peoples of South and North America and includes Greenlandic Inuit but does not include Native Hawaiians, or Chamorros, or Norse Greenlanders (Thule people arrived in Greenland after the Norse but already lived in North America, i.e. Canada).

Mestiza/mestizo typically refers to people of mixed Indigenous and Iberian descent (although can also refer to detribalized people of Indigenous descent in Latin America) and does not need to be capitalized mid-sentence. Mestiza/mestizo or mestiza/o is used, not mestizx, unless in a proper name (e.g. exhibition title) or the author is a Spanish speaker and strongly prefers the latter. Mestizx has not yet gained strong usage among Spanish speakers, and FAAM is watching the development of gender-neutral terms, such as the adoption of the –e suffix in Argentina (discussion).

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, Alaskan Natives, and often Native Hawaiians and Chamorros.

Native and Indigenous are capitalized. Black is capitalized, while white is lowercase (This is an AP standard). Hyphenate non-Native and non-Indigenous.

Try to avoid the term Eskimo unless there is a compelling reason to use the term (name of a 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, Unangan/Unangas, Yupiit, Yupik people, 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, such as a Native speaker prefers another spelling)
Athabascan Athabaskan, Athapascan
Ancestral Pueblo peoples Anasazi, Ancient Puebloan people
Anishinaabe Anishnabe, Anishinabe
Caddo, Ancestral Caddo, Caddoan language speakers Caddoan, unless discussing a language, not a people
Cherokee [always disambiguate]. See Cherokee
Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band Cherokee, or Keetoowah Cherokee for living people
Tsalagi or Aniyvniwa (which should be Aniyvniwaʔi anyway)
Cherokee (on tribal affiliations for living artists)
CHamoro, with a capital “h” as delineated in Guam public law 33-236 Chamorro, Chamoru
Choctaw Nation, Jena Choctaw, or Mississippi Choctaw for living people Choctaw (on tribal affiliations for living artists)
Delaware Nation or Delaware Tribe for living people Lenape, Lenni-Lenape
Greenlandic people Greenlander
Heiltsuk Bella Bella
Karuk Karok
Kewa Santo Domingo Pueblo, unless the individual is Santo Domingo Pueblo and feels very strongly about using this form
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)
Guna Cuna, Kuna
Lakota Sioux, Teton
Mi’kmaq Micmac
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
Nuxalk Bella Coola
Ohkay Owingeh San Juan Pueblo
Ojibwe (default in the United States), Ojibway (default in Ontario) Chippewa (only use if the person’s tribe uses this term), Ojibwa, Ojibway, Anishinaabe (this term includes many tribes)
Pueblo or Ancestral Pueblo Puebloan, Anasazi
Sami or Lapp
Shoshone Shoshoni
Tohono O’odham Papago
Wyandot, if just a general term Wyandotte only when the Wyandotte Nation is being discussed
Yokuts Yokut
Yup’ik (with a straight apostrophe) refers to Central Alaska Yup’ik
Yupik (without a straight apostrophe) refers to St. Lawrence Yupik or Siberian Yupik


  • Kewa, Hopi, and Ohkay Owingeh don’t need to be followed by the word Pueblo.
  • Pueblo is optional with Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Kewa, Nambé, Picuris, Pojoaque, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni. Just be consistent throughout the article.
  • Since Isleta, Laguna, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Sandia, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, and Ysleta del Sur are general Spanish terms, they should be followed by Pueblo.
  • If an individual belongs to several pueblos, the word Pueblo does not necessarily need to be included in their tribal affiliation.

Non-Native cultural affiliations

Use hyphens in terms like African-American, Asian-Canadian, and European-American.

Abbreviations | Bylines | Captions | Citations | Contact Info | Dates | Degrees | Names | Numbers | ProfanityPunctuation | Specific Terms | Titles of Artwork, Etc. | Tribal Affiliations