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Blend of pretend +‎ Indian


Pretendian (plural Pretendians)

  1. (informal, derogatory) A person who falsely claims to have Native American or Indigenous Canadian ancestry.
    • 2016, MaryJanice Davidson, Danger, Sweetheart, page 104:
      Natalie waited, expecting the usual white platitude, It's okay; I'm one-sixteenth Cherokee myself, or perhaps a dose of American Indian Princess Syndrome, or an acknowledgment of the glut of Pretendians of late.
    • 2021, Sarah Viren, The Native Scholar Who Wasn't, in The New York Times Magazine:
      Although the United States has a long history of white people “playing Indian,” as the scholar Philip J. Deloria calls it in his book of the same name, the 1990s saw the beginning of what would eventually be significant pushback by Native Americans against so-called Pretendians or Pretend Indians, including the successful passage of a national law prohibiting non-Native people from marketing their art as 'Indian.'