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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Creation of a Carmeleño Identity:Marriage Practices in the Indian Village at Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmel


Indigenous peoples from diverse tribelets lived within the Indian village at Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmel. In precolonial times, California Indians formed identities tied to their tribelets. In the mission, those identities were reproduced as members of this pluralistic community formed a connection with their new place of residence. In this paper, I illustrate how marriage was one arena within which different indigenous peoples at this mission may have created a shared sense of identity. The data suggest that California Indians from different tribelets, which were generally endogamous in precolonial times, extensively intermarried in the mission. As people intermarried across tribelet social boundaries, a new community identity, that of the Carmeleño, may have been created. However, there were variations in this pattern of intermarriage correlating with time, demography, tribelet, and individual circumstances. Furthermore, other documentary evidence suggests that a Carmeleño identity may have been but one of many social identities situationally expressed at Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmel.

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