No more than four syllables, more PC than Indians.
EDIT: I arbitrarily chose four syllables because any more seemed like a mouthful. I like to be PC and not have to stumble over 6+ syllables.
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
I know Indians and they prefer to be called Indians. Their reservations have names like Navajo Indian Reservation. Any office or bureau for them would have the name Indian in it.
Here is a good article that discusses the Indians’ own preferences about what they would like to be called — and not called. So not only is it not offensive but it’s actually preferred, so go with that.
Here are some government bureaus run by and for the Indian population in America. Not sure they would choose to have an offensive name in their office titles.
Added based on comments: Yes, Columbus coined the term probably (there is talk that Indian comes from an Indian word too). He was looking for the (East) Indies, though, not India itself. Yes, there may be confusion about whether the person is from India or they are an Indian (and my good friend’s dad would simply say: that is the white man’s issue). Fact is the word was used for the peoples of the Americas first and has continuously been used since then.
So (poor) choices:
Amerinds (three syllables) or Amerindians:
another term for American Indian, used chiefly in anthropological and linguistic contexts
Note, for example, the Amerind Museum, founded by the Amerind Foundation.
The longer "Amerindian" has also been widely adopted in English-speaking South American nations. For example, it is the official term used by the Guyanese government.
Indigenous people. If you want to be more concise (and sensitive), you'd need to know their actual tribe (they probably have a separate language). Some examples Dine, Cherokee, Ojibwe.
There is the term indigene, "one who is indigenous", but I don't know if it has any negative connotations. I've only seen the word used in one novel, and I had to look it up to verify that the author hadn't coined it himself as a back formation from indigenous.
The Google search results don't make me cringe in horror (mostly dictionary references), so it would seem to be a fairly neutral, if obscure, word.
Anthropologically, there is the term Mongoloid.
Some serious issues to consider before you use it:
For casual use, I would just stick with Indian, Native, Native American, American Indian, etc.
They can be referred to as autochthonous people in general and neutral terms.
Originating where found; indigenous: an autochthonous people; autochthonous folktales, native.