Although not without conflict or slavery, Euro-Canadians' early interactions with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations were less combative compared to the often violent battles between colonists and native peoples in the United States.
Combined with later economic development, this relatively non-combative history has allowed First Nations peoples to have an influence on the national culture, while preserving their own identities.
Others state that the term came into common usage in the 1970s to avoid using the word "Indian", which some Canadians considered offensive.
Some Aboriginal peoples in Canada have also adopted the term "First Nation" to replace the word "band" in the name of their community.A band is a legally recognized "body of Indians for whose collective use and benefit lands have been set apart or money is held by the Canadian Crown, or declared to be a band for the purposes of the Indian Act." Some First Nations people consider the term offensive, while others prefer it to "Aboriginal person/persons/people", even though the term is a misnomer given to indigenous peoples of North America by European explorers who erroneously thought they had landed on the Indian subcontinent.The use of the term "Native Americans", which the United States government and others have adopted, is not common in Canada.Within Canada, "First Nations" (most often used in the plural) has come into general use—replacing the deprecated term "Indians"—for the indigenous peoples of the Americas.Individuals using the term outside Canada include supporters of the Cascadian independence movement as well as American tribes within the Pacific Northwest.
The singular, commonly used on culturally politicized reserves, is the term First Nations person (when gender-specific, First Nations man or First Nations woman).
A more recent trend is for members of various nations to refer to themselves by their tribal or national identity only, e.g., "I'm Haida", or "We're Kwantlens", in recognition of the distinctiveness of First Nations ethnicities.
North American indigenous peoples have cultures spanning thousands of years.
Some of their oral traditions accurately describe historical events, such as the Cascadia Earthquake of 1700 and the 18th century Tseax Cone eruption.
Written records began with the arrival of European explorers and colonists during the Age of Discovery, beginning in the late 15th century.
In addition, archeological and anthropological research, as well as linguistics, have helped scholars piece together understanding of ancient cultures and historic peoples.