In order to be able to truly appreciate the scope of all of this, as must make ourselves familiar with that of the true diversity of the tribal, and this includes that of: population, geography, social, and political organization. Basically, one manner in which we can seek to understand about California Indians and their culture is to actually and seriously look at the tribes that inhibit similar climatic and ecological zones, and what will emerge from using this approach is that of an incredibly remarkable similarity in material aspects of the many different tribes that have inhabited in particular locations. There are many different tribes that settled in California, and each and every one of these tribes truly needs to be examined to the tenth degree, in order to be able to get the best grasp on the issue of California Indians in general. By doing this, we will be able to understand the difficulties and tribulations that the California Indians went through, as well as gain a better understanding on them overall. This is what will be dissertated in the following.
California is a large area, and so in order to understand about California Indians, we truly have to begin by separating the state into two separate parts: Southern California and Central California. Southern California truly presents that of a varied and somewhat unique region of the state, and beginning in the North, the tribes that have been and are found in this area are as follows: Chumash, Alliklik, Kitanemuk, Serrano, Gabrielino Luiseno Cahuilla, and the Kumeyaay. In regards to Central California, this particularly vast territory includes that of: Bear River, Mattale, Lassick, Nogatl, Wintun, Yana, Yahi, Maidu, Wintun, Sinkyone, Wailaki, Kato, Yuki, Pomo, Lake Miwok, Wappo, Coast Miwok, Interior Miwok, Monache, Yokuts, Costanoan, Esselan, Salinan, and the Tubatulabal tribes. There are a number of vast differences between Southern and Central California, and especially between that of the groups of tribes that are located in each area; regardless, each tribe and community had its own chieftain and these were for the most part males but females sometimes filled the positions as well, and the duty of the chieftain was to organize all of the community events and to settle any conflicts that arose between the followers - they were basically considered as being the leaders, and the followers truly did look up to them in this way.
The first California Indians arrived by 900 A.D., and this was with the Athapaskan relatives of the Navajo and Apache appearing last in the northwest; as well, the number of Indians that habituated in California was not that many at the time, only 150,000, and although this is considered a small number when compared to that of today, at the time California was actually the most densely populated region of the United States and Canada.
In fact, most of the Indians in California today are actually native California Indians, and there are over 100 federally-recognized Indian tribes in California, and almost 100 Federal Indian reservations in the state, with about 40 Indian groups that were seeking to gain federal recognition.