The term Indian collectively describes all the Indigenous People in Canada who are not Inuit or Métis. Indian Peoples are one of three peoples recognized as Aboriginal in the Constitution Act of 1982 along with Inuit and Métis. In addition, three categories apply to Indians in Canada: Status Indians, Non-Status Indians and Treaty Indians.

Status Indians – Status Indians are people who are entitled to have their names included on the Indian Register, an official list maintained by the federal government. Certain criteria determine who can be registered as a Status Indian. Only Status Indians are recognized as Indians under the Indian Act and are entitled to certain rights and benefits under the law.

Non-Status Indians – Non-Status Indians are people who consider themselves Indians or members of a First Nation but whom the Government of Canada does not recognize as Indians under the Indian Act, either because they are unable to prove their Indian status or have lost their status rights. Non-Status Indians are not entitled to the same rights and benefits available to Status Indians.

Treaty Indians – Treaty Indians are descendants of Indians who signed treaties with Canada and who have a contemporary connection with a treaty band. The term Indian is considered outdated by many people, and there is much debate over whether to continue using this term. Use First Nation instead of Indian, except in the following cases:

  • in direct quotations
  • when citing titles of books, works of art, etc.
  • in discussions of history where necessary for clarity and accuracy
  • in discussions of some legal/constitutional matters requiring precision in terminology
  • in discussions of rights and benefits provided on the basis of Indian status or
  • in statistical information collected using these categories (e.g., the census)

The term is acceptable as both a noun and a modifier.