Malki Museum, Inc.
There are more than one hundred federally recognized Native American tribes found within the present-day borders of California, a roughly equivalent number of indigenous Californian communities who are either unrecognized or currently petitioning for recognition by the United States government, and another eight indigenous reserves just across the international border in Baja California, Mexico. This impressive array of more than 200 Native American communities is not surprising, given what oral narratives, early ethnography, and precontact archaeology tell us about the densely populated sociopolitical landscape comprised of many hundreds of small-scale autonomous tribes that existed before colonization in the late-1700s. Separating these two eras of Native California, however, is the colonial period—a time when indigenous peoples faced directed culture change in the Spanish missions, joined multiethnic communities at mercantile outposts, and suffered greatly due to disease, violence, and the disastrous policies of elimination enacted during the early American period.
Schneider, Tsim D., and Lee M. Panich (2018). Special Feature Introduction: Indigenous Persistence in Colonial California. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 38(1):9- 10.