Was the Buddha an Indian?
Obviously not! Did he come from Nepal? Probably not, as the savvy archaeologist Sir Arnold Stein claimed on the basis of a total lack of archaeological evidence.
Why so? In ancient times and right up to about the 10th century AD the Buddha (a post Priadarsi (i.e. Ashoka) epithet) was referred to as Gautam (or Gaumata) the Saka-muni (Prakrit) or Sakya-muni (Sanskrit). ‘Saka’ refers to Gautama’s tribe. The Persian, English and indeed Sanskrit equivalent of ‘Saka’ is ‘Scythian’.
He was called ‘the Scythian recluse (or inspired one)’, alias the ‘Sakamuni’, by Brahmins and their patrons because, being heterodox, because denying the essential teachings of Brahmanism, they would not or could not accept him as one of their own. Calling him a Scythian was a smart put down. Indeed, Buddhist legend, i.e. the (Theravada) sutras, state than many Saka princes followed the Skythian Gautama.
Gautama we classed as a foreigner, and of the caste of the kashtria, the latter being then understood as the degraded remnants of the Scythian horse warriors.
Now why would the orthodox Brahmins have called him a foreigner, a Scythian (and not a Nepali), if he hadn’t been one? Why did the name stick?
In all likelihood he belonged to a split off tribe of the Scythians who from the 9th century BC had ruled Persia. If that is the case then the Sakamuni would not have rebelled against Brahmanism, so far it existed at that time, but against the still dominant religion of the extended (into Gandhara) Persian empire, namely that of Zaroastrianism, and which believed in one God (i.e. Ahura Mazda) and in life after death, both of which the rebellious (meaning sceptical) Sakamuni, though not his later followers, denied.