Difference Between Native and Indigenous

Native vs Indigenous

Native and indigenous are two words that are used commonly to refer to plants, animals and even people. So, it is interesting to see these entities being referred to as native, aboriginal, or indigenous. But do you know the difference between these words to use them properly in the right context? No doubt there are many similarities between native and indigenous, but it is also true that there are subtle differences that need to be highlighted.

Let us take up the case of plants first. If you are in Australia, you get to see both native as well as indigenous plants and wonder if there is any difference between the two. To be specific, indigenous plants are region specific in Australia, while native are those that are not region specific, but all plants that are found in Australia. So, when you plant indigenous plants in a region that is not natural to them, you would find them grow listless and unattractive with smaller and dull flowers. One drawback of some of the native plants not indigenous to an area is that they can capture nearby areas and become almost like a weed.

When talking about animals, the words native and indigenous are used interchangeably to refer to animals that are found naturally in an area. However, to be correct, it is better to use the word indigenous for species, while using the word native for individual animals. Thus, it is prudent to say that cats are not native to America as a species, though if one has a pet cat he can refer to it as a native of a particular area where it took birth. Cats were introduced to America as they were bought here from other places.

It is funny really that these words are also used to refer to people living in a particular area. It is common to see both words native and indigenous being used to label original inhabitants of a particular region. So, US has its own aboriginals, and Australia has its own indigenous people. In reality, the distinction between indigenous and presently living people in a region is palpable by marginalization of the original or native inhabitants of a region. In fact, they are at places referred to as minority or ethnic groups. When Columbus discovered America and mistook it to be India, Spanish people referred to all natives as Indians.

What is the difference between Native and Indigenous?

· Native and indigenous are similar meaning words that refer to naturally growing plants, living animals, and even original inhabitants of a particular region.

· When using for animals, indigenous is used for species, while native is used for particular animals and not whole species.

· For human beings, both native and indigenous are used almost interchangeably.