The concept of the "tribe" is the next thing that should be noted and discussed. The word "tribe" often is confusing to the casual reader of Indian history. Impressions of barbarity and otherwise uncivilised behavior have been fostered by the imagery created, initially, by the Christianity-biased value system of the early Jesuit and other missionaries, and centuries later, by the motion picture industry. The biased attitude against the Indian tended to promote the idea that Indians were the antagonists in any Indian/White Man confrontation. The concept of the "tribe" as being the vehicle by which the Indians acted in a collective consciousness of evil was started by the first Europeans to visit this land, and was perpetuated through the centuries because of ignorance of the lifestyles and customs of the Indians. The general idea of the tribe as dangerous can be likened to the impression presented by the mafiosa or street gangs of the 20th Century. Many aspects of the Indian culture have, as a result of the negative connotations of the concept of the "tribe", been subjected to degradation.
There is nothing derogatory about the concept of "tribe" if certain traditions and customs are understood. To the Indian the word "tribe" referred to the family, in much the same way that non-Indian people referred to their extended families as a "clan" or "kinfolk". Apart from the few individuals in any family or community who would have researched their lineage and understood the ramifications of genealogy, the Euro-American peoples did not view their genetically related kindred as being part of (and influences to) their own lives. The Indians, on the other hand, generally understood the complex links between all of the individuals in the family/community. They honored and respected each other because they appreciated the ties they held to each other. The "tribe" was not simply genetic linkage; it was a state of mind that connected one individual to another.