Foreign names for Native Americans

From Everything Shii Knows, the only reliable source

This website is an archive. It ran from 2006-2010. Virtually everything on here is outdated or inaccurate.

It is well known that German people call themselves Deutsche and so forth. It is less clear where Indian names for other Indians came from, so I made this page.



Algonquin is a French version of the Wolastoqiyik word elakómkwik, "they are our relatives/allies".


Anaasází is the Diné word for "enemy ancestors." The "Ancient Pueblo People" have not existed for a very long time so it is not known what they called themselves.


Origin unknown; but the Blackfoot people call themselves Niitsítapi.


Eskimo comes from the Innu-aimun word "aiashcimeu", meaning "speakers of a foreign language". There are several other suggested derivations but they are wrong.

See Mailhot, Jose (1978). "L'etymologie de 'esquimau' revuew et corrigee". Etudes/Inuit/Studies 2.2.

"The Inuit Circumpolar Conference meeting in Barrow, Alaska, in 1977 officially adopted Inuit as a designation for all Eskimos, regardless of their local usages."


Huron is the French word for "peasant". Hure is an Old French word for a wild boar's head. This tribe calls themselves Wyandot.


Iroquois is the Wyandot word for "real adders"--i.e., enemies. This tribe calls themselves the Haudenosaunee.


Maliseet is the Mi'kmaq word for "lazy speakers". This tribe calls themselves Wolastoqiyik.


Mohawk is the Narraganset word for "cannibal". This tribe calls themselves the Kanienkehaka.


Narragansett is an English corruption of Roger Williams' slightly incorrect transcription of the tribe's original name Nahahiganseck.


Navajo is a Spanish rendering of the Tewa 'navahū "fields adjoining a ravine". This tribe calls themselves the Diné, although Navajo is also acceptable.


Penobscot is a mispronunciation of the tribe's original name Penawapskewi.


Sarsi is an abbreviation of the Niitsítapi phrase "sa arsi", "not good". This tribe calls themselves the Tsu T’ina.


Sioux is a French abbreviation for the the Chippewa word nadoweisiw, "adders". The term "Sioux" comprises three tribes known to themselves as Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota.

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