Posted on July 5, 2011

Hispanics Identifying Themselves as Indians

Geoffrey Decker, New York Times, July 3, 2011

A procession of American Indians marched through Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on a weekend afternoon in early May, bouncing to a tribal beat. They dressed in a burst of colors, wore tall headdresses and danced in circles, as custom dictated, along a short stretch of the park.

But there was something different about this tribe, the Tlaxcala, and when the music ceased and the chatter resumed, the difference became clear: They spoke exclusively Spanish.

The event was Carnaval, an annual tradition celebrated by tribes indigenous to land that is now Mexico. And despite centuries of Spanish influence, the participants identify themselves by their indigenous heritage more than any other ethnicity.


Seventy percent of the 57,000 American Indians living in New York City are of Hispanic origin, according to census figures. That is 40,000 American Indians from Latin America–up 70 percent from a decade ago.

The trend is part of a demographic growth taking place nationwide of Hispanics using “American Indian” to identify their race. The number of Amerindians–a blanket term for indigenous people of the Americas, North and South–who also identify themselves as Hispanic has tripled since 2000, to 1.2 million from 400,000.


18 responses to “Hispanics Identifying Themselves as Indians”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think there is some confusion about this issue.

    The Mexican “Indians” are mostly Central and South American Indians. They are not the plains and east coast Indians that most Americans think of when they hear the word “Indian”.

    This should be remembered when hate associations like La Raza claim the entire Southwest, when that was in fact taken by Spanish conquistadores and not by Aztecs.

  2. WASP says:

    Yes, Mexicans are nothing more than American Indians who lived in the south west and were conquered by the Spanish.

    American Indians get free college tuition, no taxes on many consumer goods along with several other benefits. Wonder if that is why they are now calling themselves Indians? Looking for more special treatment now that they are the majority minority in the US. A way to maintain their victim status? I wonder.

  3. Istvan says:

    Now if we could get the FBI to properly identify the perpetrators of crime as Hispanic-Indian instead of identifying them as “white” to artificially inflate the white crime statistics.

  4. rty says:

    In Mexico and throughout most of Latin America, Indians usually have the lowest social standing of all groups. The elites on the other hand are largely or completely of European extraction. Mestizos for the most part occupy the midtier. Watch a Mexican telenovela (soap opera) on Univision if you don’t belive me. Odds are all the dark skinned actors with Indian features will be playing the servants, while the light skin actors (very often with blond hair) will have the leading roles. In poilitics as in entertainment, the elites are much whiter than ordinary Mexicans. Take a good look at Vicente Fox and Filipe Calderon. Look at the people in their cabinets. Virtually none of Mexico’s millionaires and billionairs are Indian, despite making up roughly 30 percent of the population. Visit the website of Mexican network Azteca ( Despite the name, you won’t see any Aztec Indians on its home page!! Racial attitudes in Mexico are far more traditional than in modern Amerika, and their elites are probably laughing themselves silly that the dumb gringos up north haven’t caught on to their scheme of dumping impoverished Indians and mestizos on us.

  5. HH says:

    Which is, of course, why this term “Hispanic” is as meaningless as it is disingenuous – all the easier to deceive the masses with!!

  6. Sureesh says:

    That means my kids can now check off “Hispanic” on their college application because they are Indian?

  7. Greg says:

    I’m new here, but let me try to work through this…

    So the “minority” Hispanics which by now have effectively become the majority have reverted to calling themselves by a different minority name, in order to… what? Qualify for some more government handouts?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anyone who has lived around them, or paid much attention to them will have to notice that Mexicans will make claims like this whenever it seems an advantage to them. In fact, the vast majority of Mexicans are merely Mexican Indians and tribal. The real Spanish and Mestizos are from Mexico City, Vera Cruz and one or two other cities, generally speaking. Latin America was named that because the Catholic Church was popularly termed The Latin Church at that time and so the term “Latin America” emerged as a permanent nomenclature. But when it seemed to suit their egos they were as recently as five years ago playing up the idea that they were really Latins and that means connected to Spain and France and Italy equally. It was a time when immigration to Europe was occurring and they sought to enlarge the idea of themselves as legitimate Europeans. They operate on the idea that if you repeat lie long enough, it becomes truth. Unfortunately, that has worked for them with immigration issues and ideas such as all the many jobs Americans won’t do.

  9. E.S. Curtis says:

    Lots of genome studies have been done in the past 20 years. The average Mexican has about 2/3rds European ancestry and 1/3 American Indian, with a trace of African. But that’s the average–the elite are mostly white, and there are plenty of villages, especially in the south, that are almost entirely American Indian. Since our illegal immigrants overwhelmingly come from villages, it makes sense that many of them would actually be American Indian.

  10. fred says:

    The trend is part of a demographic growth taking place nationwide of Hispanics using “American Indian” to identify their race. The number of Amerindians—a blanket term for indigenous people of the Americas, North and South—who also identify themselves as Hispanic has tripled since 2000, to 1.2 million from 400,000.

    I strongly object to Mexican Indians referring to themselves as “American Indian”. “America” and “American” are understood as referring to the United States. These Amerindians are NOT native to the United States. And they are using the term as a political tool to imply a history in this country which DOES. NOT. EXIST!

  11. Sardonicus says:

    Yes, this absurdity seems to be gaining traction. If I were a genuine Native American, I would be upset. Most Hispanics are not descended from the original tribes/indigenous peoples of NORTH America. They are descended from the Aztecs, Toltec’s, Incas and other Latin American peoples. This seems to be a bogus attempt by some Hispanic/Mexican irredentists to claim the United States on the basis of “Indian” heritage.

  12. olewhitelady says:

    Basically, anyone can claim any ethnicity that most people will accept a person as being. Many folks who identify as white have some Native American heritage, and, over the years, people with a non-noticeable amount of black African ancestry have “passed for white”. Hispanics are, by most Americans’ definition, part Spanish and part Native American. The vast majority of Mexican immigrants appear to be largely the latter, while most non-black Cuban immigrants look white. To me, they’re Latino but not Hispanic. (But that’s just my personal perception.)

    American Indian tribes, however, are something recognized by U.S. law. Mexicans and others can claim they’re anything they want, but getting recognized as such, by the government, is another matter.

  13. Tim Mc Hugh says:

    As Hispanic becomes the new “White” look to more and more of them identifying as “Indian” to set themselves apart as “minorities” and keep the greedy grievences coming in…

  14. Alexandra says:


    The way I understand it, “indigenous” peoples (for lack of a better word) were called Indians because when Columbus landed in the Caribbean, he thought he was in India.

    “Native” Americans and Canadians are offshoots of the Mongoloid race, related to Orientals.

    (I personally like the term Amerind.)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Speaking as a person who is 1/4 native American I can tell you we do have to pay taxes on most everything we buy. We are only tax exempt from property tax & inheritance tax and that is only if we live on a federal “rez” otherwise we have to pay all the taxes other do.

    As far as native Americans go people from Mexico & further south & far more of Spanish decent then they are anything else because the Spanish were far more brutal then the angalo saxons ever were & often raped the women of the people they fought.

    Comparing them with Natives from north America (many of which are at least partially white) is about like comparing regular mexicans with Americans.

  16. diversity = adversity says:

    the North American indigenous tribes, like the Creek peoples, has significant Solutrean maternal DNA. the central and south American tribes do not. Mexicans have Spanish paternal DNA.

    so if in 1800, someone’s father was a French exile and the mother a Creek indigenous, that person could pass for white.

  17. ATBOTL says:

    Most of the Mexicans on the East Coast are Indians.

  18. Sureesh says:

    Of course I know the Indigenous people of America were historically referred to as Indians but since us Asian Indians are held to a higher standard than whites when it comes to university admission and America fawns over “underrepresented minorities” such as Blacks, Hispanics, and Native American Indians, I was wondering if we could ride on the affirmative action trail by 1) claiming we are black because of our dark skin color (we are darker than a good percentage of Black Americans or 2) Claiming my kids are “American Indian)- my wife and I were born in India and my kids were born in the U.S., so therefore, they can also claim they are American Indian.

    I am sick and tired of liberals making excuses for NAM while smart Indian kids are discriminated against just because we are overrepresented in math and science.