The following definitions are taken from the INDIAN & NORTHERN AFFAIRS DOCUMENT: Treaties with Aboriginal People in Canada.
Aboriginal Peoples: The descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people — Indians, Métis people and Inuit. These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
First Nation: A term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the word “Indian,” which many people found offensive. Although the term First Nation is widely used, no legal definition of it exists. Among its uses, the term “First Nations peoples” refers to the Indian people in Canada, both Status and Non-Status. Many Indian people have also adopted the term “First Nation” to replace the word “band” in the name of their community.
Aboriginal Rights: Rights that some Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of their ancestors’ longstanding use and occupancy of the land. The rights of certain Aboriginal peoples to hunt, trap, and fish on ancestral lands are examples of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal rights will vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices and traditions that have formed part of their distinctive cultures.
National Aboriginal Day: In cooperation with the national Aboriginal organizations, the Government of Canada decided that the best date to celebrate this day is June 21, the day of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. ..."Canada is proud to set aside a day of celebration in recognition of the unique accomplishments of the Aboriginal people and their contribution to the building of Canada.
UNITED STATES FEDERAL DEFINITIONS:
Indian: "Any person who has the certifiable Indian blood quantum to meet the enrollment requirements of a federally-recognized tribe.” One problem this creates is that Native Americans can be “full-blood” composites (hyphenated tribes/Nations), but not meet the minimum requirements of any one of their respective tribes/Nations.
Federally Recognized Tribe: Any Indian tribe, band, nation, rancheria, pueblo, colony or community which is recognized by the United States government as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the Secretary of the Interior to Indians because of their status as Indians. In 1954, the Termination and Relocation Act of 1954 arbitrarily erased 61 tribes.
A Federally-Recognized Indian Reservation: An area of land held in trust by the federal government reserved for Indian use. Massachusetts has ONE reserve. Who has the power to define who is Native American? Who SHOULD? More on Federal Recognition
As outlined in The Rights of Indians and Tribes, sovereignty for tribes entails the right to:
- Form tribal governments
- Determine tribal membership
- Regulate tribal and individual property
- Assess taxes
- Establish law enforcement systems
- Regulate domestic relations
- Regulate commerce and trade
- Exclude nonmembers from tribal territory