1. Strictly seen, neither of the terms “Native American” or “Indigenous American” are factually correct since – according to modern genetic and archaeological evidence – the “Indians” (so called by the founding fathers of the USA) were also immigrants to the Americas, even if this migration occurred some many thousands of years before the Pilgrims. Seen historically, using the term “Siberian-American” would probably be more accurate in terms of actual tribal origins, although not even that is 100% accurate, given the apparently ancient but rare mtDNA European lineage “X” also found in American Indian populations. As the Encyclopedia Smithsonian writes at http://www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmnh/origin.htm:
“Evidence for diverse migrations into the New World also comes from Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) research on living American Indian populations. These studies have consistently shown similarities between American Indians and recent populations in Asia and Siberia, but also unique American characteristics, which the very early crania have also shown. Evidence for only four mtDNA lineages, characterizing over 95 percent of all modern American Indian populations, may suggest a limited number of founding groups migrating from Asia into the New World. Recently, however, a fifth mtDNA lineage named “X” has turned up in living American Indians and in prehistoric remains for which there does not appear to be an Asian origin. The first variant of X was found in Europeans and may have originated in Eurasia. Naturally, generations of conflict, intermarriage, disease, and famine would influence the genetic makeup of modern Native Americans. Further work with mtDNA, nuclear DNA (which is more representative of the entire genome), and Y-chromosome data, the male-transmitted complement of mtDNA, will permit better estimates of the genetic similarities between Old and New World groups and help to determine when they would have shared a common ancestor.”
The problem with the terms “Native American” or “Indigenous American” is thus that they – quite intentionally – presume and encompass some allegedly fundamental truths and conclusions which may not even be true. If the mtDNA lineage X from “Euroasia” preceded the Siberian-Americans, then it would be the American Indians who took the land away from that group, which would make lineage X the first – previously immigrated – inhabitants of America.
2. It is arguable that naming certain segments of the American population in terms of their territorial “origins”, whether it be “Native American” or “African American”, is discriminatory per se, unless we also follow the same naming practice for all other Americans, thus abandoning the “melting pot” idea which is at the root of the American nation. How about Euro-Americans?
3. The entire concept of grouping modern peoples within America by their “origins” is problematical since many individual citizens have mixed-race lineages. See America’s label game misses diversity of race. Tiger Woods, for example, calls himself a “Caublinasian“.
4. New DNA genetic studies such as the National Geographic Genographic Project (in concert with IBM and the Waite Family Foundation) make simplistic labels of origin appear rather foolish. Maybe we will one day in the not so distant future be known by our Y and mtDNA haplotypes?
Andis Kaulins, LawPundit“