Famous anthropologists like Alfred Kroeber, a major researcher of California Indian tribes, and Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology, argued there were no authentic Indians in the United States after 1850. These men did not study the Indian communities they found during their field research, but tried to reconstruct Indian communities as they existed in the past, before significant Western contact. Rather than find examples of living history and continuing customs, they consulted elders who could remember the languages and cultures, the old ways.
There is no doubt that the anthropologists provided great service to tribal communities by preserving cultural knowledge and aspects of languages. But the emphasis on "salvage" anthropology, researching to find the last remnants of indigenous communities before they were lost, and the absence of interest in living indigenous communities, did a great disservice to indigenous peoples.
Indian people do change. We just may not change in patterns that are recognized or common to Western or American society. Indian people are willing to change and adapt to necessarily uphold their values, cultures and ways of life. The world is changing rapidly, and Indian people must make decisions about how to manage relations with local, state and federal government, while trying to gain economic self-sufficiency and maintain cultural and political autonomy. Changing world conditions require Indian people to meet the new conditions in order to continue as communities or distinct cultures. Since the world is fundamentally different from the past of say, 200 years ago, the ways of meeting the demands of contemporary and future life will also require change. Even more so, the new conditions often require new solutions, sometimes not contained in the traditions. New ways of approaching economic self-sufficiency or cultural expression are found useful. The changing world offers new choices. Native individuals and communities have more choices and ways of finding solutions to issues as they pertain to cultural survival.
There's only one problem in this otherwise fine editorial. When the author says:
That's why the BIA imposes stringent rules on who gets to be federally recognized as a tribe. And why most "tribes" fail to get recognized. Without strong cultural or biological ties, they're no longer Indians.