Recognition Months/Days


The term "American Indian and Alaska Native" (AI/AN) is used to refer to indigenous peoples of the United States. It is encompassed by the broader term "Native American," which also includes indigenous peoples of Canada (known as Aboriginal Canadians, Native Canadians, or First Nations), Mexico, and Central and South America. "Alaska Native" is used to refer jointly to Eskimos (Inuit), Indians, and Aleuts living in that state. (The Inuit are also native to Canada.) "Native American" is widely accepted as the "correct" term for the indigenous peoples that were residing in North America when Europeans first arrived on the continent, and for their descendants. Although the terms Native American and AI/AN imply a certain degree of cultural homogeneity, the indigenous peoples of North America do not form a monolithic ethnic or cultural group, despite their sharing broadly similar experiences. There are hundreds of Native American groups, each with distinctive traditions, customs, values, spiritual beliefs, lifestyles, and languages. In considering Native Americans generally, or AIs/ANs specifically, it is important to recognize their internal diversity.