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January 26, 2011

Who is Indian, and what makes a person an Indian?

My answer? There are many definitions of who is an Indian. As a starting point, “Indian” is a misguided label that spread through Europe after 1492. Native people have always associated themselves with their tribe(s) and referenced their tribal names in their tribal languages. Explorers and colonists from Spain, France, England, the Netherlands, and Russia, among other countries, began naming tribes they encountered in North America in European languages. As English became the primary language in the United States, American Indian (to distinguish us from Indians native to India) became the collective term used.

American Indians generally belong to or are descendents of tribes indigenous to what is now the United States.

In modern times the federal government, states, tribes and individuals have formed their own definitions of who is Indian. Three important criteria to consider when answering this question are federal legal definitions, ethnological Indian ancestry, and tribal membership. The federal government lists 565 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaskan Native Communities. Twenty-two states also have criteria for recognizing tribes within their boundaries. The majority of state-recognized tribes, however, are not federally recognized. For United States Census purposes, an individual simply needs to self identify themselves as American Indian and Alaskan Native to be counted in the final summary.

The question of who is an Indian is often debated among Indian people. Does carrying a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) make you Indian? Does being raised away from a reservation and not having traditional knowledge make a person less Indian? Does knowing your language make you more Indian? These are some of the complex questions that have been debated on determining Indian identity. The response depends on who is answering the question.

Skin color does not make you Indian. In our museum I have heard non-Indians comment they have seen an Indian simply if the person they saw has the long black hair, brown skin, and high cheek bones associated with the classic Indian image. In reality, there are proud Indians with blonde hair and blue eyes or black skin. Through intermarriage, their Indian descent comes from one or both Indian parents.

Each tribe has the sovereign authority to define who its members are and who is eligible to be enrolled. Some tribes have blood quantum requirements—a requirement that to be enrolled, a person must have at least a certain degree of tribal ancestry, such as one-fourth—while other tribes’ laws state that a person is eligible for enrollment if one of his or her ancestors appears on a particular historical list of tribal members. Ultimately the question, “Who is an Indian?” is determined by tribal law.

 

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Comments

It is fine if your grandmother or great-grandfather was Native but it seems to be most important to me where your heart is. Do you accept and adopt the customs, traditions and belief's of your tribal organization?

I do and I'm proud of my heritage. It has become the best part of what I am.

Well said!

i believe it is very important to not only take part in your heritage but to know why and what the rituals and belives are. Because at the end of the day that is where you came from , it does not make you any better or worse than any other race, but defines what race you are. We come from so many different backrounds in so many different shapes and sizes and colours and it is positive to show our uniqueness.. every single one of us, and be proud. For purley positive reasons.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37vdU9x8lnA

I would call "American Indian" a poor concept. A misnomer like "Latino" being used for Hispanic-Indigenous. "Native" or "Indigenous" are descendents of tribes indigenous to the continents of North and South America.

I agree with Gene everybody is quick to claim they have Indian in there blood but not many who claim this truly support the customs beliefs or traditions. Not much awareness is made available either.

Edward
http://www.make-hair-grow-faster-7pe.com

Each tribe has the sovereign authority to define who its members are and who is eligible to be enrolled. Some tribes have blood quantum requirements.


Each tribe has a diferent set of standards for enrolling its members. This is their right under the law. A tribal member may rightly be considered a Native American under their tribes laws.

However, if a Native American descendant who is qualified to be enrolled into a specific tribe declines this enrollment, does this mean they are not Native American?

I have heard of many Cherokees who descend from Cherokee tribal members who did not enroll in the Dawes Roll of 1906, because of the incredible presures of the times and hatred of anyone who is identified as "Indian."

Also, many blacks escaping slave masters before the Civil War had been brought into the tribe for their safety, and inter-married with tribal members and were placed on the Dawes Rolls. Are their descendants not Cherokee because the tribe recently descided to take them off of the Cherokee Rolls? Website information at http://americanindianoriginals.com

Ethinic identity is more than a set of rules that change under current pressures or beliefs. This is why laws are needed that withstand political pressures.

This is especially true because tribal revenue from gambling and possibly natural resources would be divided with any additional members.

I have heard many who have been rejected for enrollment that they would be happy to sign away any financial support or gain in order to have their tribal heritage officially recognized.

This may be one area of tribal business that should be uniformly regulated the U.S. government. Bonnie

I think that to be an Indian is not only necessary to be born in India, but believe with commitment to the values ​​of the same tribe. Because usually, India is bound to be a way of life full of sacrifices, therefore, are people who believe very much to their race and to his style. It would be interesting to know, to date, there are many different tribes in the world ...
Jessica Parra|CessioneQuintoINPDAP

My grandparents were from Italy. Much of my childhood was spent immersed in Italian traditions. I feel as though, I am Italian-American. I don't find the distinction much different.

With the global interaction today, it is more difficult to define who is what. Things get more complex and I think it is now in each person's hand to decide.

I feel that 'indigenous' or native Indians better describes the originality than just saying American Indian. America is a long, long continent with many tribes, north, central and south. GD


How far do you actually go back to trace your descendants. In the big picture we are all the same anyway. We descend from apes, them fish then single cell amoebes - so really it is a bit short sited to even argue the fact. I am italian but I am a human being first - we are all the same people!


I was very encouraged to find this site. The reason being that this is such an informative post. I wanted to thank you for this informative read of the subject.

I believe that the qualities that make a man Indian by heart are Selfless service of others and helping others.

The subject about tribes and heritage should be looked into with seriousness. All of us belong to some tribe by heritage. It is not something you choose in life but it is chosen for you before you exist on this earth. So finding your roots and establishing yourself in them is very important. It will help you to know who you are so that you are not lost in a society filled with confusion. Most of us are doing our best to run away from our heritage but we do not realise that is what defines us, we should be doing our best to preserve it.

Thank you for this article! It is very interesting! We hope to come back with other articles as interesting and exciting!

I'm Jewish, and there are two components to how you are identified. Technically it's based on your blood; if your Mother was, then so are you. But as with other peoples there's the cultural aspect. There's a whole way of being, behavior, and values. So with Indians I imagine it's a combination of ancestry and how you conduct yourself.

This is an interesting topic one that i surely dont have an answer for but makes me think!

It's interesting to learn that without having to learn a language of the American Indians, you may still be considered a American Indian as long as one of your ancestors are.

I agree with Ankit's statement that discusses being Jewish. I'm Polish, and being Polish is defined in a similar way. I was born in America, but my mom's side of the family is all from Poland. The Polish people have a certain set of standards/customs one should go by, and those standards/customs can at times be considerably different. That may be because of the many wars Poland has found itself involved in, namely WWII. Possibly because of Soviet control as well. Either way, it's interesting to think about it with Native Americans, and I would imagine they have their own version of that too.

I really appreciate this wonderful image that you have provided for us.
Thanks for sharing this image.

I follow you constantly. This kind of hope that you continue to the shares. good luck.

this site is awesome, im bookmarking everything i read

Understanding your family history and where you come from, the culture, etc., is a very important part of life. As I live in Mexico right now, I see many different heritages. While there are many of European blood here, the vast majority has native blood in them.

Your blog is so informative. Most of the time i got busy with my class.
When i got free i read your blog.
But i have not found the subscribtion option of your blog. If i subscribe with ur blog i can get info about updating your blog .
Can u please reply back to me how can i get a subscribtion ? It's really informative.
Keep updating daily.

My wife has native American on both sides, but not enough to be considered Indian. It is interesting that there is no real way to prove that you are Indian.

This is a fascinating topic. I am not a native American - at least as far as I know. As an American however, I feel that our society and culture has truly been enriched by that of the native peoples. I am proud of this aspect of being American. It would be interesting to view the DNA of Americans and see the extent of our overall genetic influences.

It does not matter who you are and what's your origin. What matter is that how you behave. Race does not make you any better.

If you behave nicely then you are a good person and otherwise :-)

I don't have a clear answer for such a fascinating topic (although I believe you are what you feel you belong to), just wanted to tell you, as a fan of American Indians' culture, how much I appreciate your blogsite and its great content.

Sandro Falasca

I am one eighth Indian. My great grandmother married my great grandfather, an English envoy stationed in India whilst under British rule. My great grandmothers family were less than impressed. However she passed her meditation practice down the generations and I meditate every day. Do I feel I qualify as Indian? Superficially you would never know, I'm fairly pale with blue eyes. But inside, definitely yes!

America is a colorful society where people from different race, ethnicity and country live together with a hope of better future. Indian American are the people who have their roots in India but now they are very much part of America. I think calling them native Indians would be better. However, very interesting and thoughtful article. I loved it reading.

Thank you, very nice site, your site would follow with interest from Turkey,good work

America is a colorful society where people from different race, ethnicity and country live together with a hope of better future. Indian American are the people who have their roots in India but now they are very much part of America. I think calling them native Indians would be better. However, very interesting and thoughtful article. I loved it reading.

Man, talk about a fantastic post! I?ve stumbled across your blog a few times within the past, but I usually forgot to bookmark it. But not again! Thanks for posting the way you do, I genuinely appreciate seeing someone who actually has a viewpoint and isn?t really just bringing back up crap like nearly all other writers today. Keep it up!


I was looking for a Dermasis review when I chanced upon this article of yours. America not just about the white or the black. It's a land for different people! Caucasians just came here after the blacks came. Then, the yellow ones the red ones and now, almost every race in the world is in America!

This is a very interesting topic. I am not a native American, at least as far as I know. As an American however, I feel that our society and culture has truly been enriched by that of the native peoples.

I think we are all the same people, scientifically we are all descendants of the apes. Its surprising to see how far we can go to trace our roots and place race/tribe divisions among ourselves.


Who is Indian, and what makes a person an Indian? It's interesting and meaningful.


Really good stuff. Thanxs for this beautiful information ...This is really true.

I really like your post hope to read more from you.


Regards,

Carlnick


I think we are all the same people, scientifically we are all descendants of the apes. Its surprising to see how far we can go to trace our roots and place race/tribe divisions among ourselves.

Great website. Its surprising to see how far we can go to trace our roots and place race/tribe divisions among ourselves.

I don't have a clear answer for such a fascinating topic (although I believe you are what you feel you belong to), just wanted to tell you.

Thank you for this article! It is very interesting!

Ninh Bình

The most important to me is where your heart is. I have been many places in the world and I always accept and adopt the customs, traditions and belief's of where I am.

People should always be proud of their heritage.
But most important of all, it is the respect for other cultures and traditions and try to understant them.

Great

Understanding your family history and where you come from, the culture, etc., is a very important part of life. As I live in Mexico right now, I see many different heritages. While there are many of European blood here, the vast majority has native blood in them.

I was very encouraged to find this site. The reason being that this is such an informative post. I wanted to thank you for this informative read of the subject.

The culture of American Indians vary widely. The language, dress and customs vary greatly from one culture to another. This is due to the wide distribution of the Americans and the adjustments to the different regions of America. For example, due to the semi-desert of Aridoamérica chichimecas never came to form a civilization like those of Mesoamerica, its southern neighbors. As a result, chichimecas formed a culture based on the practice of nomadism. Although the Aztec and Inca civilizations formed extensive and rich, the garment of both relied heavily on the climate of their land. In Mesoamerica, where the climate is hotter, they would use less clothing the inhabitants of the Andes. Still, there are some cultural features that most Native Americans practiced.

this is just part of the diversity from one place and the other. people will always something interest with their original culture no matter where they live.

That's quite a good article on Indian. I have friends who are Indians, I even have relatives that have mixed Indian blood. Nowadays, some of the family members inherited both different races' blood from father and mother. So does that qualify as Indian too? As far from what I know, Indians speak different dialects too. Nice to read something about Indian here to let me know more.

Oliver

I think is difficult to define Indian just because in 1492 they started to be killed...

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The most important to me is where your heart is. I have been many places in the world and I always accept and adopt the customs, traditions and belief's of where I am.

People should always be proud of their heritage.
But most important of all, it is the respect for other cultures and traditions and try to understant them.

WOw Great story I think you can make a short movie for this one. It's very interesting topic and plot. Thanks!

I mostly agree with you.Well done.Great and fantastic blog. I am interested very much in the subject matter of your guestbook.I sure will keep visiting your blog ASAP.

Cool site, fine information. Thanks for the helpful advices.I am really glad that you’re sharing it with us.
Also enjoyed reading the posts, good stuff. Thanks and best of luck!

You have made good efforts in writing this article. I mostly agree with your point of view and looking forward for the further subscriptions. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this.

Very nice post and information. It is always great to gain some additional knowledge in several areas. You have shown nice research on the Indian topic. I have some Choctaw in me.


I believe one should embrace their desent, embrace their culture. We are all humans and alike but diffrent in so many ways thats what makes this country of our's an excieting Melting Pot.

A lot of information here. Thanks for the post. Please continue to blog.

Nice article, but there were a lot of checklist one would have to do to find out if they really are an Indian.

interesting word and meaningful.but to me human still human...even indian..tq..

Nice article, I must say I appreciate you showing me a new way of looking at this very important issue to me.

thank for sharing

very useful for me

The culture of Indians are different. The language, dress + customs vary greatly from one culture to another. Thats due to the wide distribution of the Americans + the adjustments to the various regions of America.
Good Article with a lot of Informations.
Thanks

America is a colorful society where people from different race, ethnicity and country live together with a hope of better future. Indian American are the people who have their roots in India but now they are very much part of America. I think calling them native Indians would be better. However, very interesting and thoughtful article. I loved it reading.

I Am an Indian and I am proud of it. Just nothing can describe it.

This subject about tribes and heritage should be looked into with seriousness of the peoples who want know the worlds problems of the peoples that type culture peoples will encourage tribes if peoples.

One can be Indian in terms of heritage, genetically, ethnically. There're some who claim to be Indian just based on their lifestyles. Definitions are becoming more open to interpretation nowadays.

Donny

Indians have a great heritage and everyone wants to be one, and its sometimes sad that not all full blooded Indians have tribes or their heritage.

Daniel

Columbus sailed west to get to India and discovered the west indies. The indigenous people were Caribs and Arawak Indians..who are the real Indians?

In my opinion, the only thing that counts is do you have Indian blood or not. The same goes for other nations!

Jacob

Well, I think native Indians are a wealth of knowledge. Please, let's all make sure this knowledge is maintained and not lost. Thanks for a great article.

Devisenhandel-Forex

My good friend is a Chief in the Chippewa Nation and I know he would be interested in this discussion. he believes we are all connected to the spirit world and the land and because of this, we ultimately are all one. However, people with Native American ancestry should have special status in the United States. I am a chiropractor in Denver and I love treating my Native American clients.

The blood is not so important, i really think that the way we act, and we understand ourself make us the person we are!

Well, I think native Indians are a wealth of knowledge. Please, let's all make sure this knowledge is maintained and not lost. Thanks for a great article.

http://www.monticellochiropractic.com Thank you for a wonderful post. I once had a client that was Indian. This client knew her mother was from a certain tribe, but did not have any proof and was not accepted by the tribe. It bothered her for her entire life. She wanted to meet the people that were related to her mother as she had no other relatives. I know she made a very good effort to get the right documentation. This blog post reminded me of the problems she had.

The fact that this article is able to question what it means to be an indian shows that it has become an accepted, and often misunderstood cultural entity. While most of the current indians in the US and canada have casinos and online casinos and land based casinos too, many of them don't have a very strong indentity of their culture and religion while many others don't at all. I think they might want to consider organizing on more fronts to avoid this issue from spiraling out of control

Good point! nowdays the color of the skin doesn't really matter but it is important to kepp and respect each others roots!
Regards,
Dan Mitroi

when Colon arrived in 1492 had no idea of the intelligence of these Indians

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. This is very interesting topic one that i surely dont have an answer for but makes me think! I would like to read more of your blogs

It is a shame what "modern" civilization did with these people. It seems to be in our culture to call people names and for native americans we invented a name Indians, although I think they would prefer to be called otherwise. They have a herietage that exceeds a lot of other nations, but they were pushed away like they were nothing. It is sad what was happening trough history with native americans, becouse they are one of the most beautiful and interesting cultures to study.

Regards,
Mike Ethril

Its quite interesting to read about the native Indians....and I'm proud to be a Indian and now Indians have very good image across the world wide for their skills and intelligence.

Thanks!

this is just part of the diversity from one place and the other. people will always be interested in their original culture no matter where they live.

Indians are those who can sacrifice life for their country and lives peacefully without any discrimination. They respect their guest.

agree with RamanMaan, Indians are those who can sacrifice life for their country and lives peacefully without any discrimination. They respect their guest..

An Indian is an Indian in deed.Indians are recognised world wide for their great talents.This is something I acknowlege.
Bacoty

My good friend is a Chief in the Chippewa Nation and I know he would be interested in this discussion. he believes we are all connected to the spirit world and the land and because of this, we ultimately are all one. However, people with Native American ancestry should have special status in the United States. I am a chiropractor in Denver and I love treating my Native American clients.

i agree with Gene Bland comment, Indian or not is on the heart.

I really like your post and i hope to read more from you,


Regards,
Gembul

These are some of the complex questions that have been debated on determining Indian identity.
Thanks for this!!!

What youre saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I also love the images you put in here. They fit so well with what youre trying to say. Im sure youll reach so many people with what youve got to say.
The culture of American Indians vary widely. The language, dress and customs vary greatly from one culture to another. This is due to the wide distribution of the Americans and the adjustments to the different regions of America. For example, due to the semi-desert of Aridoamérica chichimecas never came to form a civilization like those of Mesoamerica, its southern neighbors. As a result, chichimecas formed a culture based on the practice of nomadism. Although the Aztec and Inca civilizations formed extensive and rich, the garment of both relied heavily on the climate of their land. In Mesoamerica, where the climate is hotter, they would use less clothing the inhabitants of the Andes. Still, there are some cultural features that most Native Americans practiced.

India extends an Overseas Citizens of India card to people who live outside of India but have parents or grandparents of Indian descent. So basically India recognizes a person to be an Indian.probate attorney new york

I read this post and i think this is one of most informative blogs i ever seen. I bookmark this page so i can easily found next time.

Well said. Skin color does not make you an indian - it's up to the tribe's traditional requirements.
Proud of my heritage every day I'm at work.
Thanks for the post.
Terry

i believe it is very important to not only take part in your heritage but to know why and what the rituals and belives are. Because at the end of the day that is where you came from , it does not make you any better or worse than any other race, but defines what race you are. We come from so many different backrounds in so many different shapes and sizes and colours and it is positive to show our uniqueness.. every single one of us, and be proud. For purely positive reasons.

It's just as difficult to define "Indian" as it is to define "European". A Mescalero is as different from a Cheyenne as a French person from a Swede. To a certain degree it applies to the States as well - or would you say a Floridian is exactly like a New Yorker? Even neighbouring countries can be hugely dissimilar (or how else would you explain the British).

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free.


Thanks for sharing about your heritage. I've learn a lot. Which ever is family to you and so be it. It feels good to know your roots.

I am native and descended from 4 different tribes. I don't agree that tribal courts decide if you are native. They can only decide if you are enrolled. I am not enrolled. My family knows who I am and I decide who and what I am.

Thanks for sharing about your heritage. I've learn a lot. Which ever is family to you and so be it. It feels good to know your roots.

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