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Alaska Native

An umbrella term that includes Eskimo (Inupait and Yupik), Alaskan Indians (Athabascan, Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian) and Aleut. They are culturally distinct and most prefer to be called Alaska Native instead of being grouped as American Indian. [In 2016, President Barack Obama signed legislation (HR 4238) that replaced the term Eskimo with Alaska Native in federal laws. “Although the name Eskimo is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean ‘eater of raw meat,’ according to Lawrence Kaplan of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Native Language Center.  “Linguists now believe that Eskimo is derived from an Ojibwa word meaning ‘to net snowshoes.’ However, the people of Canada and Greenland prefer other names. Inuit, meaning “people,” is used in most of Canada, and the language is called Inuktitut in eastern Canada although other local designations are used also. The Inuit people of Greenland refer to themselves as Greenlanders or Kalaallit in their language, which they call Greenlandic or Kalaallisut.]

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