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Indigenous vs. Native: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Indigenous refers to people, plants, or animals originating in a specific region, typically tied to cultural identity. Native generally means originating or born in a particular place without specific cultural connotations.
Indigenous vs. Native

Key Differences

Indigenous describes groups or species that have inhabited a region for generations, often associated with cultural traditions. The indigenous people of this land have a rich cultural heritage. Native simply indicates something or someone originating in a particular place. The robin is a native bird of North America.
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Indigenous emphasizes the connection between a group and its ancestral lands, often carrying cultural significance. The indigenous tribe has lived here for centuries. Native is a broader term that can refer to any person, plant, or animal born or originating in a specific place. The apple tree is native to Europe and Asia.
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Indigenous typically relates to the original inhabitants of a region and their historical ties. Example: The art of the indigenous people reflects their spiritual beliefs. Native can apply to anything that naturally occurs in a location, without the cultural or historical emphasis. The river is home to various native fish species.
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Indigenous often implies a unique cultural identity tied to the land. The indigenous language is an integral part of their heritage. Native primarily denotes place of origin and may not carry the same cultural connotations. Example: Redwoods are native to the Pacific coast.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Originating in a specific region with cultural ties.
Originating or born in a particular place.
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Example

The indigenous people have a rich heritage.
The robin is a native bird of North America.
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Cultural Connection

Strongly associated with cultural identity.
May not carry specific cultural connotations.
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Emphasis

Historical ties and ancestral connection.
Place of origin without cultural emphasis.
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Usage

Often used in the context of human populations.
Applies broadly to plants, animals, people.
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Indigenous and Native Definitions

Indigenous

Native to a specific region with cultural ties.
The indigenous tribes have lived here for centuries.
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Native

The oak tree is a native species in this region.
The native customs are celebrated annually.
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Indigenous

Relating to the cultural heritage of a group.
The indigenous language is still spoken today.
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Native

The native inhabitants of this island have a rich history.
The kangaroo is a native marsupial of Australia.
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Indigenous

Inhabiting a region for generations.
The indigenous flora and fauna are unique.
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Native

Being such by birth or origin
A native Scot.
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Indigenous

Originating, growing, or produced in a certain place or region.
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Native

Being a member of the original inhabitants of a particular place.
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Indigenous

Being a member of the original inhabitants of a particular place.
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Native

Of, belonging to, or characteristic of such inhabitants
Native dress.
The native diet of Polynesia.
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Indigenous

Of, belonging to, or characteristic of such inhabitants.
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Native

Being one's own because of the place or circumstances of one's birth
Our native land.
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Indigenous

Born or originating in, native to a land or region, especially before an intrusion.
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Native

Originating, growing, or produced in a certain place or region; indigenous
A plant native to Asia.
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Indigenous

In particular, of or relating to a people (or their language or culture) that inhabited a region prior to the arrival of people of other cultures which became dominant (e.g., through colonialism), and which maintains a distinct culture.
The Ainu are the indigenous ethnic group of Japan's Hokkaido Island.
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Native

Occurring in nature pure or uncombined with other substances
Native copper.
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Indigenous

Innate, inborn.
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Native

Existing in or belonging to one by nature; innate
Her native intelligence.
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Indigenous

Native; produced, growing, or living, naturally in a country or climate; not exotic; not imported.
Negroes were all transported from Africa and are not indigenous or proper natives of America.
In America, cotton, being indigenous, is cheap.
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Native

Natural, unaltered, or unadorned
Native beauty.
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Indigenous

Native; inherent; innate.
Joy and hope are emotions indigenous to the human mind.
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Native

(Biochemistry) Of or relating to the naturally occurring conformation of a macromolecule, such as a protein.
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Indigenous

Originating where it is found;
The autochthonal fauna of Australia includes the kangaroo
Autochthonous rocks and people and folktales
Endemic folkways
The Ainu are indigenous to the northernmost islands of Japan
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Native

(Archaic) Closely related, as by birth or race.
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Indigenous

Characteristic of the original inhabitants.
The indigenous art reflects their cultural beliefs.
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Native

One born in or connected with a place by birth
A native of Scotland now living in the United States.
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Indigenous

Indigenous communities often have deep connections to the land.
The indigenous knowledge of plants is extensive.
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Native

One of the original inhabitants or lifelong residents of a place.
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Native

An animal or plant that originated in a particular place or region.
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Native

Belonging to one by birth.
This is my native land.
English is not my native language.
I need a volunteer native New Yorker for my next joke…
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Native

Characteristic of or relating to people inhabiting a region from prehistoric times.
What are now called ‘Native Americans’ used to be called Indians.
The native peoples of Australia are called aborigines.
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Native

Alternative case form of Native.
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Native

Born or grown in the region in which it lives or is found; not foreign or imported.
A native inhabitant
Native oysters or strawberries
Many native artists studied abroad.
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Native

Which occurs of its own accord in a given locality, to be contrasted with a species introduced by humans.
The naturalized Norway maple often outcompetes the native North American sugar maple.
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Native

Pertaining to the system or architecture in question.
This is a native back-end to gather the latest news feeds.
The native integer size is sixteen bits.
Cloud native, crypto native
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Native

(mineralogy) Occurring naturally in its pure or uncombined form.
Native aluminium, native salt
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Native

Arising by birth; having an origin; born.
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Native

Original; constituting the original substance of anything.
Native dust
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Native

Naturally related; cognate; connected (with).
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Native

A person who is native to a place; a person who was born in a place.
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Native

(in particular) A person of aboriginal descent, as distinguished from a person who was or whose ancestors were foreigners or settlers/colonizers. Native.
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Native

A native speaker.
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Native

Ostrea edulis, a kind of oyster.
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Native

Arising by birth; having an origin; born.
Anaximander's opinion is, that the gods are native, rising and vanishing again in long periods of times.
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Native

Of or pertaining to one's birth; natal; belonging to the place or the circumstances in which one is born; - opposed to foreign; as, native land, language, color, etc.
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Native

Born in the region in which one lives; as, a native inhabitant, race; grown or originating in the region where used or sold; not foreign or imported; as, native oysters, or strawberries. In the latter sense, synonymous with domestic.
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Native

Original; constituting the original substance of anything; as, native dust.
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Native

Conferred by birth; derived from origin; born with one; inherent; inborn; not acquired; as, native genius, cheerfulness, wit, simplicity, rights, intelligence, etc. Having the same meaning as congenital, but typically used for positive qualities, whereas congenital may be used for negative qualities. See also congenital
Courage is native to you.
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Native

Naturally related; cognate; connected (with).
The head is not more native to the heart, . . . Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
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Native

Found in nature uncombined with other elements; as, native silver, copper, gold.
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Native

One who, or that which, is born in a place or country referred to; a denizen by birth; an animal, a fruit, or vegetable, produced in a certain region; as, a native of France; the natives are restless.
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Native

Any of the live stock found in a region, as distinguished from such as belong to pure and distinct imported breeds.
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Native

A person who was born in a particular place; an indigenous person
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Native

Being such by origin;
The native North American sugar maple
Many native artists studied abroad
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Native

Belonging to one by birth;
My native land
One's native language
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Native

Being or composed of people inhabiting a region from the beginning;
Native Americans
The aboriginal peoples of Australia
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Native

As found in nature in the elemental form;
Native copper
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Native

Normally existing at birth;
Mankind's connatural sense of the good
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Native

Originating or born in a particular place.
The red fox is native to North America.
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Native

The native language is spoken by the community.
Learning the native dialect was essential.
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Native

The native culture is deeply rooted in tradition.
The bald eagle is the native symbol of the country.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is being Native limited to humans?

No, Native can describe plants, animals, and inanimate objects in addition to humans.
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Nov 11, 2023

Can Indigenous be used for non-human entities?

Yes, Indigenous can refer to plants, animals, and even geological features with cultural significance.
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Can you give an example of a Native plant?

The daisy is a native wildflower in many parts of the world.
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How does Indigenous relate to cultural preservation?

Indigenous communities often focus on preserving their cultural traditions tied to their land.
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Is there a distinction between Indigenous and Endemic?

Yes, Indigenous emphasizes cultural ties, while Endemic specifically refers to species native to a particular region.
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How do Indigenous and Native relate to environmental conservation?

Indigenous and Native species are important considerations in conservation efforts.
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Can a person be both Indigenous and Native to the same place?

Yes, a person can be Indigenous to a region and also considered Native if they were born there.
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What's the primary difference between Indigenous and Native?

Indigenous often carries cultural ties, while Native broadly refers to place of origin.
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Is Native used in scientific contexts?

Yes, scientists often use Native to describe the original habitat of a species.
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Are Indigenous peoples always connected to their ancestral lands?

Indigenous peoples often have deep historical and cultural connections to their ancestral lands, but this may vary.
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Is Native synonymous with "local"?

While they can be similar, Native implies a more specific place of origin.
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Can you give an example of a Native animal with cultural significance?

The bison is a Native animal with cultural significance for some Indigenous tribes in North America.
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Nov 11, 2023

Can something be Native without a specific cultural context?

Yes, Native can simply denote place of origin without cultural connotations.
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Nov 11, 2023

Is Native flora and fauna important for ecosystem stability?

Yes, Native species often play crucial roles in maintaining ecological balance.
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How does Native plant and animal species impact biodiversity?

Native species contribute to the overall biodiversity of an ecosystem.
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How is the term Indigenous relevant to social justice discussions?

Discussions about land rights and cultural preservation often involve Indigenous communities.
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What's the significance of Indigenous languages?

Indigenous languages are essential for preserving cultural heritage and communication within communities.
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Are Native languages still spoken today?

Yes, many Native languages are still spoken, but some are endangered.
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Are Indigenous and Native interchangeable terms?

While they overlap in meaning, Indigenous often carries deeper cultural connotations compared to the more general Native.
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What's the role of Indigenous knowledge in environmental conservation?

Indigenous knowledge can provide valuable insights into sustainable resource management.
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Nov 11, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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