Definition of American Indian in US English:

American Indian


  • A member of any of the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America, especially those of North America.

    • ‘I have a Hebrew last name even though I am not Jewish, but North American Indian.’
    • ‘According to the legend, American Indians came to their aid, sharing indigenous foods such as maize and turkey.’
    • ‘The rain dance from the American Indians certainly worked, as on Friday afternoon there was a terrific downpour.’
    • ‘Sumacs are regarded as sacred trees by the North American Indians, who make medicines from many parts of the plant.’
    • ‘But the chart toppers were not alone as punks, a mechanic and a North American Indian took to the streets of Whitworth to raise money for eight-year-old Rose.’
    • ‘This art of communication was developed by a Nepalese woman named Kwan and a South American Indian named Hatamo, who spent many years travelling and teaching.’
    • ‘Catlin is justly famous for his paintings of American Indians (native Americans).’
    • ‘It appeared that Navajos and other American Indians made up over ninety percent of those attending.’
    • ‘Lacrosse is believed to have been first played by native American Indians in the 15th century, for recreation and to settle disputes between tribes.’
    • ‘Other people have taken up the fight - women, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians.’
    • ‘But what about the flood legends of the American Indians and the Australian Aborigines?’
    • ‘That includes 1,550 Hispanics, American Indians and other ethnic minorities.’
    • ‘Morales is, importantly, the first South American Indian to lead a government in the continent.’
    • ‘Spiced fruits came from the Arabs, the turkey was the food of the North American Indians.’
    • ‘They were first created by the North American Indians and were used to capture pleasant dreams and stop bad ones.’
    • ‘This is the third installment in a trilogy of works by the native theatre company that examines what it means to be North American Indian in the 21st century.’
    • ‘It has been used by the native North American Indians as a survival food over the centuries.’
    • ‘This poem is an arresting comment on the similar experiences of oppression suffered by Maori and by American Indians.’
    • ‘My values are consistent with the American Indians, aborigines, and African people.’


  • Relating to American Indians.

    • ‘The result is an engaging, if contrary, diatribe that should be of interest to students of American Indian communities and to students of photography.’
    • ‘Understanding cultural differences and promoting multicultural programs could help retain many American Indian students, she said.’
    • ‘In 1986 the Pope gathered together representatives of all faiths including a North American Indian shaman for a meeting in the Italian town of Assisi.’
    • ‘Another case in point can be found in the North American Indian language Kiowa.’
    • ‘The exhibition is comprised of more than four hundred objects - mostly paintings - but also American Indian objects once owned by the artist.’
    • ‘Until about 20 years ago, the Navajo language was one of the most resilient American Indian languages in modern U.S. history.’
    • ‘The shape of the vessel suggests American Indian pottery or other archaic forms for which the glazing technique may have seemed especially appropriate.’
    • ‘Many dishes are a delicate combination of South American Indian, Spanish, and African ingredients and cooking traditions.’
    • ‘The beaded bags created from about 1900 to 1940 are among the most visually interesting examples of American Indian beadwork.’
    • ‘And there is a severe shortage of American Indian psychologists and other mental health professionals available to meet those needs.’
    • ‘Their faces are covered with feathered masks similar to North American Indian headdresses.’
    • ‘Aboriginal markings and South American Indian body art are amongst some of the sources that provide students with a multicultural reservoir of ideas.’
    • ‘As with other American Indian languages and cultures, those of the Navajos have undergone and continue to undergo tremendous changes.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, outwardly at least, Zitkala-Sa was a model product of nineteenth-century American Indian education.’
    • ‘A short time later Ripley was seen to get into his pick-up truck bearing a distinctive Native American Indian emblem and used for transporting broken-down coaches.’
    • ‘Thus, a basic spiritualism and an African-based religious foundation merged in creating and popularizing the use of American Indian imagery.’
    • ‘Students turn their attention to the study of American Indian tribes, including the Hopi, Navajo, Apache and others.’
    • ‘The figures and shelter at the left acknowledge the persistence of American Indian communities in California despite the devastating impact of the gold rush.’
    • ‘Tom knew a Native American Indian chant that would help the showers go away.’
    • ‘The program fosters interaction and supports productive scholarly activities with American Indian communities throughout the country.’


The term American Indian has been steadily replaced in the US, especially in official contexts, by Native American, which became prominent in the 1970s. The latter is preferred by some as being a more accurate and respectful description (the word Indian recalling Columbus' assumption that, on reaching America, he had reached the east coast of India), as well as avoiding the stereotype of cowboys and Indians in the stories of the Wild West. However, American Indian is still widespread in general use even in the US, partly because it is not normally regarded as offensive by American Indians themselves. Nevertheless, since the category American Indian is very broad, it is preferable where possible to name the specific people, such as Apache, Comanche, or Sioux. See also Native American, Amerindian, and Indian


American Indian

/əˈmerəkən ˈindēən//əˈmɛrəkən ˈɪndiən/