If you’re talking about a specific group, talk about that group specifically. In reference to an individual, follow their preference if known, and be specific, if possible and relevant.
American Indians, Native Americans, Native*
These are umbrella terms, acceptable when referring to two or more people of different tribal affiliations. For individuals, use the name of their tribe if known, such as Chief Leschi was Nisqually, rather than using a generic term. Follow an individual's preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
In Alaska, the Indigenous groups are collectively known as Alaska Natives.
In Canada, First Nation is the preferred term for native tribes.
*Note that these terms are not always acceptable to different groups. American Indian is sometimes preferred by federally-recognized tribes. There is tension and disagreement around these terms.
Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges. African American or Black American are also acceptable for those in the U.S. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Follow an individual's preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx
A term that people of Mexican descent in the American Southwest sometimes use to describe their heritage. Use only if it is a person’s preference.
See Gender-Neutral Suffix
Do not hyphenate terms referring to a person’s heritage/racial identity/cultural identity, even if used as a compound modifier:
- Asian American
- African American literature
- Turkish German cuisine
Hawaiian, Asian American, Pacific Islander Terminology
- Hawaiian describes people from, or whose ancestors were from, the Hawaiian Islands, and includes those who live there but are not ethnically Hawaiian.
- Native Hawaiian refers specifically to the Indigenous people of the Hawaiian archipelago.
- Pacific Islander broadly describes the Indigenous people of the Pacific Islands, including but not limited to Hawai`i, Guam, and Samoa. Be specific and ask how a person wants to be referred to, such as Samoan, Native Hawaiian, or Filipino American, rather than relying on a generic term.
When possible, use the correct characters and diacritical marks or their equivalents when including words in a language other than English in text, such as the `okina (`) in the word Hawai`i and the kahako (¯) in the word lū`au.
See Special Characters and Diacritical Marks
A term used for a person from, or whose ancestors were from, Spain, Latin America, or a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Follow an individual's preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
Capitalize the term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place: Puget Sound partners with Indigenous communities to study the local salmon habitat. Chinook salmon are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest.
See Puget Sounds Specifics
Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine
Terms often used by people from, or whose ancestors were from, Latin America, or a Spanish-speaking land or culture, excluding Spain. Follow an individual's preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
See Gender-Neutral Suffix
- Always be specific about a person’s identity when referring to individuals and avoid generalizing or overly broad terms like minority, marginalized, or diverse.
- Minority, marginalized, and minoritized are acceptable when writing about large populations or describing data.
- If it is necessary to use a broad term to describe a group, consider alternative terms such as underrepresented or historically excluded, but be sure to thoroughly research the term and its connotations before using.
- Follow an individual’s preference if known, and be specific when possible and relevant.
People of color, person of color
The term is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white, or when it is a person’s preferred identifier. Be specific whenever possible by referring to, for instance, Black Americans, Chinese Americans, or members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.
Do not use acronyms in university communications in reference to people. Always use clear terminology that avoids jargon, such as students of color, if appropriate and relevant.