Q. According to several sources, the word “Indigenous” should be capitalized when referring directly to Indigenous peoples. However, I am uncertain as to whether this term should be capitalized when referring to aspects of Indigenous society, such as Indigenous/indigenous artistic and cultural traditions. Thank you.
A. We would capitalize “Indigenous” in both contexts: that of Indigenous people and groups, on the one hand, and Indigenous culture and society, on the other. Lowercase “indigenous” would be reserved for contexts in which the term does not apply to Indigenous people in any sense—for example, indigenous plant and animal species. A parallel distinction arises for the word “black,” which many writers now capitalize in references to ethnicity and culture (a usage that CMOS supports) but not, for example, when it is simply a color.