Much talk goes on in our office about those who are Native American and those who are not. This is because many people request our services to find their Native American ancestors and most often documentation shows that they are not. This is true because most of the people who submit these requests are Caucasian. Joseph has recently started a series of blog posts on the subject.
Want to know who IS Native American? Most of the people in Latin America. Sentiments toward indigenous groups have not collectively shifted one way or another in Latin America. There are those who are proud of their indigenous heritage and others who pride in having mostly non indigenous blood. In Peru and Bolivia there is a high concentration of indigenous people, whose traditions have been well kept. Whereas, in the countries of Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina the indigenous people are a minority. In Brazil, the indigenous people are concentrated in different areas. Uruguay may be the only country that is almost entirely populated by people of European descent.
Catholic parish registers are the greatest resource for genealogical research in Latin America. These records are rich in information including specific references to the race of the people being recorded. It is common to find different registers were kept for those of European descent and for those of indigenous descent. The indigenous people were most often referred to as “indios” in the records.
Tracing the percentage of indigenous blood in my family lines has not been the motivation behind my research. However, it has been exciting for me to document my mixed family history. I have only traced one of my lines to a Spanish immigrant with the help of some distant relatives. This was exciting and surprising because you can tell at a glance there is much indigenous blood in my family. Maybe as I learn more about the origins of my other family lines, I’ll be more interested to know how many of them are of indigenous blood and how many are not.
Do you have Hispanic ancestry? If so, then you probably are Native American. If you don’t, then you may not be.