This setting is Mythic American Indian (shortened to MAI), not Realistic American Indian. It is not a historical setting, any more than classic swords and sorcery is 'European'. In the same way that classic fantasy is a mishmash of different mythic elements from different cultures spread over 100s (if not 1000s) of years, this setting is also a mishmash of different American Indian mythic elements from many different tribes and many different time periods. It is designed to be fun to role play in, not to be a historical reenactment.
There is no universally accepted name for the people who lived here before Europeans arrived. I've used terms like "California Indians" and "American Indians". Some people prefer "Native American", but that could apply to everyone born in the New World. Besides "Californian Native American" doesn't exactly flow off the tongue, and "Native Californian" commonly refers to anyone born here. Other terms (Aboriginals in Australia, First Nations in Canada) are rarely used in the US.
Myths you won’t find here:
- The Noble Savage. These rules take the position that Native Americans represented the whole range of human personalities and were neither particularly noble nor particularly savage.
- Indians as protectors of nature or living in harmony with nature. While native americans lacked the technology to do huge damage to their environment, they did not particularly protect it, either. These rules don't mix up a lack of technology to exploit nature, with a concious decision not to fully exploit nature.
Native Americans were everywhere different, so pay close attention, because I use the term “Native American” to refer to everyone in North America. I use the term Californian Indian to refer to Native Americans in just that state, and Ohlone refers to one specific tribe in that state. The Ohlone were not farmers. Only one tribe in California farmed, but many tribes in other parts of North American did (as an example of the differences found over the continent).
Also, I follow the common terminology of “Chief” for King and “Tribe” for Country or Kingdom, for most of North America. However, in California, there is a smaller group which I call a “Tribelet” (others sometimes call a band or a village). These were sometimes lightly organized into larger tribes, but often not.