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I wish to describe groups people who live in the land of their ancestors. In other words, people who live in the same region as their ancestors have since time immemorial.

Words that come to mind are:

  • natives peoples
  • indigenous inhabitants
  • aboriginal peoples
  • first peoples

However, these words often evoke stereotypical images of tribes living in mud/straw huts in the middle of desert, tropical forest, or special reservation. These words are sometimes used in contexts that suggest that the people are primitive and less civilized.

Another problem is that the dominant people or culture are not always automatically included in the label "natives". For example, in the case of Japan, "the natives" is associated more with the Ainu people than the Yamato people, even when both of these groups are indigenous inhabitants of Japan. Another example:

English is the ancestral language of the aboriginal people of England.

This sentence sounds incorrect.

I wish to include the dominant people, and avoid stereotypical images when saying "the natives". Which words or phrases can I replace that with?

closed as primarily opinion-based by lbf, JJJ, TrevorD, Neeku, Mitch Apr 16 at 14:58

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    English is not the ancestral language of the aboriginal people of England. Old English was originally language of the invaders who started coming across the channel and conquered England in the 5th century — before that, Celtic languages were spoken in the British isles (along with Latin, the language of the previous invaders). And the Celts were invaders, too, although we know very little about the inhabitants before then. – Peter Shor Apr 6 at 11:49
  • You might say Brits are the archetypal "mongrel race". And English is the archetypal mongrel language. – FumbleFingers Apr 6 at 11:54
  • Canadians use the term “First Nations” to represent the aboriginal inhabitants in more dignified way, at least to my ear. – IconDaemon Apr 6 at 12:02
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    @IconDaemon - But "First Nations" has a fairly constrained definition. – Hot Licks Apr 6 at 12:25
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    @IconDaemon It would be rather strange to refer to the English, French, Germans, etc. as being the "First Nations" of Europe... – Flux Apr 6 at 12:39

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