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Originally a literal description of rebellious aboriginal inhabitants of British colonies, as in:

As to the Native question. . . . The Natives are restless, and seem desirous of fighting.


the natives are restless

  1. (set phrase, often mildly humorous) A group of agitated people—such as a set of residents, customers, or citizens—is expressing annoyance, distress, or other discomposure.
    • 1989 Oct. 29, Diane Ketcham, "About Long Island: Warhorses On The Campaign Trail," New York Times (retrieved 28 May 2015):
      This election year, the natives are restless, the senior campaigners say. Long Island voters are angry about high taxes, affordable housing and drugs.
    • 1997 Dec. 29, David C. Churbuck, "Help! My PC won't work!," Forbes (retrieved 28 May 2015):
      Gateway has plenty of company in having to deal with frustrated, sometimes irate, customers. . . . The natives are restless. Few vendors are spared.
    • 2010 May 20, David Von Drehle, "The Pitchfork Primaries: Will Washington Get the Message?," Time (retrieved 28 May 2015):
      The natives are restless. Americans of all persuasions at last agree on something. It is a message to their leaders that starts with F and ends with u.