I need Terms historical accurate, but not offensive for Native Americans

I have started a fantasy story based on 1861 Nevada territory and the massive corruption coming with the silver and gold mining fever. Even if is a fantastic story about a curse and snake zombies. I need a serious believable background to make it immersive. But also I don’t want to use the slurs they used against the natives. So I need something to use.

Is Indian offensive?

Is Native American offensive?

If they are what word should I use?
I don’t want to use the same only Tribe name over and over again.


well you could always research the different Tribes, and pick one for your story.

found this: Native American name controversy - Wikipedia

I don’t know if Indian is used. I mean, I think I saw the term used in old comics books .

And it is used in french (Les Indiens).

Anyway, check that link till someone who has more knowledge come around and answer your question :stuck_out_tongue:


The term Native American didn’t even exist at the time, so definitely don’t use that if you want your story to be immersive.

As E_RedMark said I’d recommend doing some research into which tribes were active in the area at the time, and then use whatever the correct name actually is. The Shoshone for example would be a good pick, as they had tribes living in Nevada during the 1860s.


There is no universal answer to the question, because Native Americans (aka Indians aka First Nations People depending on whom we are talking about) are not a homogenous group!

“Indian” is not universally offense, nor is it universally inoffensive. Certainly in the 1860s it would not have been considered a slur. That doesn’t mean you should use it. :woman_shrugging:

In Nevada, off the top of my head, you’d be talking about the Shoshone, Paiute or Washoe. Referring to members of those tribes metonymically would be the best, perhaps only thing to do.


Paiute and Washoe as the game takes place in the California trail near the Truckee river and the area years later will be called Reno. Now Called Washoe county. Still, not everyone knows in Game from what tribe are sometimes. So I will try to be delicate. Thanks everyone.


Those interested enough will research it and find out what you did; most everyone else will just go with the story and keep their immersion going.


We actually say Amérindiens. Just Indien is a very outdated term in the same way indian is.

I think just referring to the tribe name might be your best bet here. If you need a general term to group them all maybe just referring them as the local tribes might do it (Instead of “The native americans” its just “The local tribes”)

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no it not offensive, i have Native American blood so i maybe corrected but not 100%, but seeing that i may be the closed to what your asking. no it not. some people may consider that but, they are just not really thinking of the bigger picture. so Write on and let the wolf gods Guide you. Also read the game Lone Star that should also answer your question. (not to be rude)

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Honestly your best bet would be to pick which First Nations tribe you’re going to write about and research the HELL out of them. I have a FN character (Sioux), and I have a loooot if tabs open on their history, customs, religion, etc. I’ll admit it can be difficult, but some of the informational websites have contacts you can email to learn more, or ask specific questions. Good luck! It sounds like an interesting topic :slight_smile:

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I won’t write about them. I am writing a fantastic story where you transform into or a cougar girl that is desperate to eat human flesh or in a Viper, witch spreading an ancient course towards the new migrants and miners destroying the land.

As I said there won’t be more one of two natives of the Washoe and an old Paiute wise lady. And yes, I have researched but is a very little part of the story.

The question comes that I don’t care how little is I don’t want to offend anyone.


That works for readers, but there could be cases where an in-game character doesn’t know much about another character’s background.

And that is the writer using their craft to distinguish the two enough that the reader is prompted to do the research but the immersion remains intact in-game.

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Well that’s a bit of a oxymoron. You need to choose if you want to be accurate to the time period and give a real, respectable representation of it. Or if you want it to be easily digestible to a modern day audience, (which in my opinion completely devalues the history your trying to show off, and you should probably go full fantasy if that’s what you want). You can’t have it both ways.

Though in truth it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you have the sources and history to back it up, the important thing is to be as close to the reality as you can make it while still making a fun and enjoyable story/game.


Sincerely, I don’t think that is the case, Fantasy interwoven with common day realism, is one successful way to introduce and emphasize a fantastic universe. The Neverending Story, Harry Potter, Matilda and many others. Many even based on historical periods. Hell, Cog will release today one: Ironheart.
I like Choice of Vampire Example. Even if It is true, Choice of Vampire including racisms terms and outdated ones. The reason they are there is that is a main part of the plot.

However, in my project racism is not something is part of it. So I really don’t believe that I have to include racism for the sake of it when doesn’t bring anything of value to the story. I don’t believe in realism for the sake of it.


Gotcha. I would recommend just using the characters name. If you’re going for a bit of historical accuracy but want to avoid using any type of title that could be a slur, use “boy/girl/child”. For example, if a cowboy were calling your First Nation character out in not-so-friendly way, maybe use “Hey boy!” etc. The fact that your character is Native doesn’t necessarily have to be the crutch the reader relies on to identify their ethnicity. You can also describe their physical aspects (clothing, hair length, hair color, hair style, etc.) to describe your character, these things are all very unique to each Tribe and differ greatly from the Westerners. Hope that helps a little more than my previous response!


If the tribe has a bear motif, perhaps they were commonly called ‘The Bears’ or maybe ‘The Black Claws’. Other tribes might disparagingly refer to them as ‘Growlers’ because of the way they speak. Settlers might whisper about the ‘Night Walkers’ if they’re renown for their stealth or talk about the ‘Fishers’ around the lake if they trade a lot of fish.

You could also fall back on general terms like ‘The People’ when the tribe talks about itself. Outside law enforcers might call the tribe ‘Them Renegades’ or ‘Those Mountain Folks’.


Those are great ideas, thanks. I didn’t think about them lol, now I am embarrassed


@poison_mara is shows your human

We did a class field trip to a preservation a couple years ago, and one of the questions asked was what do you want to be called? The Chumash chief told us that they prefer the term Indian, as it was the first one used. I don’t know if all Indians feel this way, but he did. I don’t know, just a thought.