What is the appropriate term to refer to the people native to the Caribbean islands? I need a general term, appropriate for use in schoolwork, similar to the term "Native American", that can refer to all of the people who lived in the Caribbean islanders prior to Columbus' arrival.

I have some academic books that use "native" and "Native" (capitalized) though these are older books, and I don't know if either is still PC. "Islander" also isn't specific enough, as I need to exclude any Spanish who settled down there. Is "Native Caribbean" an acceptable term?

1 Answer 1


Why not just say indigenous caribbeans instead of native? Indigenous is generally the more acceptable term

  • The people with the best claim to be native to the Caribbean were the Island Caribs (britannica.com/topic/Carib) and the Arawak.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 9:11
  • An authoritative reference would give weight to your claims, and is expected for answers on EL&U.
    – DW256
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 8:10
  • Fine, read Victims of Progress by John H. Bodley (6th ed.) if you would like more information on indigenous cultures around the world.
    – Justine S
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 23:27
  • The Wikipedia article on the subject is called Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. So that's probably OK. If discussing individuals it's normally better to use something more specific like Taíno, but if you want a general term, you have to be general and avoid specific ethnonyms that may not refer to all people from the region.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 19 at 12:30

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