is a Tribal, Indian, Native American today? There is no clear answer
to this question, since different people apply different definitions.
Most definitions are based on a cultural or racial context. In brief,
Latin American perspective defines tribal people as those who live
a tribal/Indian way of life. Anglo-American government officials
tend to keep rather close record of whether a person is: full or
half or less blood quantum.
Basically one system is inclusive and the
other is exclusive and also utilizes racial backgrounds rather than
cultural definitions. Perhaps the most important criteria is self-determination
and how the individual is categorized in the community where they
reside. Ask your family first, with rare exception, tribal people
have vast family connections and there is always someone within
tribal families that knows who is related to whom or why not and
When we look at culture in connection with
the lifestyle of a particular people, we find that their way of
life almost always includes options or variations and, therefore,
is never completely homogeneous. Cultural evolution is constantly
in process and groups are continually borrowing from their neighbors
as well as developing more or less original traits.
For example, the Diegueno- Kamia-Kumeyaay-Kwaamii
peoples of southern California. The distinction between Diegueno
and Kamia is purely artificial. Certain Ipai-Tipai speaking people
were missionized at the San Diego Mission, while others were missionized
in several Baja California missions. Some were not missionized at
The Ipai-Tipai speaking people compose a branch
of the Kamia-Cocopa-Halyikwami-Kohuana group within the Yuman division
of the Hokam language family.
Very closely related to the socio-political life of native peoples
are the various ceremonial exchange systems. In the California area,
people of various community-republics (bands) had and have regular
patterns of inviting the people of other specific localities to
their ceremonies. Such ceremonial exchange systems are particularly
significant in California regions.
In summary, the individual who desires accurate
information relative to the socio-political organization of Native
American/Tribal people must continually be alert to the complexities
involved in categorizing human groups and to the appropriate time-period