Native Peoples

Indios were defined as the native indigenous peoples in all the Spanish America and Asia possessions.  During the Spanish colonial period in the Mariana Islands (17th through 19th centuries) the Chamorros people were classified as indios. In the Spanish racial hierarchy, indios were the lowest-ranked group.  The order was peninsulares, criollos, mestizos, Filipinos and indios.

Originally, native Filipinos were included in the indio category in the Mariana Islands along with Chamorros, but were later designated as “Filipinos” in Spanish censuses. The Spaniards first brought Filipinos to the Mariana Islands to serve in the seccion de guardia civil urbano-rural (Spanish army in the Marianas).

Because of expensive Spanish taxes levied on peninsulares (Spanish-born Spaniards), criollos (Marianas-born Spaniards), and mestizos (part-Chamorro and part-Spanish individuals), many mestizos with darker skin complexions would state that they were full-blooded Chamorros – indios – to avoid paying.  Additionally, many Japanese-Chamorros and Chinese-Chamorros were mistakenly thought to be Chamorros and also classified as indios.

By Chelsea M. San Nicolas

For further reading

Driver, Marjorie G. Fray Juan Pobre in the Marianas 1602.  MARC Miscellaneous Series no. 8: Mangilao, GU: University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center, 2004.

Fritz, Georg. Translated by Craddock, Elfriede. Edited by Russell, Scott. The Chamorro: A History and Ethnography of the Mariana Islands. Saipan: Division of Historic Preservation, 1989.

Garcia, Francisco Olive y. Translated and annotated by Driver, Marjorie G. The Mariana Islands 1884-1887: Random Notes of Francisco Olive y Garcia. Mangilao: Micronesian Area Research Center, 1984.

Ibáñez del Carmen, Aniceto and Francisco Resano del Corazón de Jesús. Chronicle of the Mariana Islands Recorded in the Agaña Parish Church, 1846-1899. Translated and annotated by Marjorie G. Driver. MARC Educational Series 23. Mangilao, GU: University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center, 1998.

Rogers, Robert F. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1995.