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Let's say we are talking about the indigenous pukapuka who live in Pluto.

What is correct: "the pukapuka people" or "the pukapuka peoples"?

I've read somewhere the usage of "peoples" in this context, and it has surprised me.

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The native peoples of Canada. – kiamlaluno Sep 3 '10 at 9:37
    
Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples. – MT_Head Jun 8 '11 at 0:27
up vote 27 down vote accepted

"Peoples" means a group of populations. So for example "the native American peoples" means the tribes that were living in America before Columbus. "the pukapuka peoples" would mean "the group of tribes/groups collectively known as pukapuka", whereas "the pukapuka people" would mean "the group of people known as (the) pukapuka (tribe/group/etc.)"

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11  
Right. Person = an individual human being. People= a group of persons. Peoples= a group of such groups. – T.E.D. Jun 7 '11 at 17:32
    
@T.E.D.: To me, this comment is the real answer. It's short and it's clear. Every, and I mean EVERY other answer on this entire site, among all the duplicate questions, either don't give any explanation at all to justify the existence of peoples as a correct term, or they contain ambiguity that dilutes the message. (This very answer says both "pukapuka peoples" and "pukapuka people" are correct. And I get it. But to someone who is having trouble grasping the distinction to begin with, that doesn't help.) – John Y May 17 at 23:10

"People: Persons composing community, tribe, race, or nation."

OED

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protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 3:53

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