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2 Most Important Tribes

Many thousands of years ago groups known as Paleo-Indians lived in what today called the American Midwest. These groups were hunter-gatherers who hunted a wide range of animals, including the megafauna (bison, mastodons, caribou, and mammoths), which became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. The Shawnee could be descendants of the people of the prehistoric Fort Ancient culture of the Ohio country. Fort Ancient flourished from 1000–1650 CE among a people who predominantly inhabited land along the Ohio River in areas of southern modern-day Ohio, northern Kentucky and western West Virginia. The Fort Ancient culture could have been an expansion of the Mississippian culture but now most scholars believe that it developed independently and was descended from the Hopewell culture (100 BCE – 500 CE), a mound builder people.

The group of cultures collectively called Mound Builders were succeeding prehistoric societies in North America who constructed various styles of complex, massive earthworks: earthen mounds for burial, elite residential and ceremonial purposes. These included the Pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic period; Woodland period (Adena and Hopewell cultures); and Mississippian period; dating from roughly 3000 BCE to the 16th century CE, and living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River valley, and the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries, extending into the Southeast of the present-day United States.

Uncertainty surrounds the eventual fate of the Fort Ancient people. Most likely their society, like the Mississippian culture to the south, was severely disrupted by waves of epidemics from new infectious diseases carried by the very first Spanish explorers in the 16th century. After 1525 at the Madisonville-type site, the village’s house size becomes smaller and fewer with evidence to be “a less horticulture-centred, sedentary way of life”. There is a gap in the archaeological record between the most recent Fort Ancient sites and the oldest sites of the Shawnee, who occupied the area at the time of later European (French and English) explorers. It is generally accepted that similarities in material culture, art, mythology, and Shawnee oral history linking them to the Fort Ancients can be used to establish the shift of Fort Ancient society into historical Shawnee society.

There are –and have been- thousands of Indian Tribes, but some of them are better known that the others. Here we will describe a few among the main ones.

The list below is, of course, incomplete and open to discussion. Let us say that it is author’s opinion and nothing more.

Abenaki (or Abnaki)

They are a tribe of Native American and First Nations people, one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples of northeastern North America. The Abenaki live in the New England region of the United States and Quebec and the Maritimes of Canada, a region called Wabanaki (“Dawn Land”) in the Eastern Algonquian languages. The Abenaki are one of the five members of the Wabanaki Confederacy. “Abenaki” is a linguistic and geographic grouping; historically there was not a strong central authority, but a large number of smaller bands and tribes who shared many cultural traits.

Achumawi (Achomawi)

These Indians lived in Northeastern California. Their language was Hokan-Shasta. In the summer they lived in cone-shaped structures made from poles covered with tule. In the winter they moved in wood frame houses partially underground, covered with grass, tule, bark and dirt. They ate fish, waterfowl, eggs, tule sprouts, insects, game and berries. Achumawi means “river people” in Hokan. They were divided in nine tribes and their chiefs, who were assumed to have supernatural powers, were chosen for popularity and for their ability. Boys went up to the mountains when they were to become men where they prayed for special powers and searching for a “tinihowi”, a guardian spirit. Babies were carried on a cradleboard while their mothers gathered tule sprouts in the spring, and seeds, roots and bulbs during the rest of the year.


This is the collective term for several culturally related groups originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan speakers of Alaska and western Canada. The modern term Apache excludes the related Navajo people. Since the Navajo and the other Apache groups are clearly related through culture and language, they are all considered Apachean. Apachean peoples formerly ranged over eastern Arizona, northwestern Mexico, New Mexico, Texas and the southern Great Plains.

The Apachean groups had little political unity; the major groups spoke seven different languages and developed distinct and competitive cultures. The current division of Apachean groups includes the Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (formerly Kiowa-Apache). Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.


They are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Sioux. Arapaho is an Algonquian language closely related to Gros Ventre, whose people are seen as an early offshoot of the Arapaho. Blackfoot and Cheyenne are the other Algonquian-speakers on the Plains, but their languages are quite different from Arapaho. By the 1850s, Arapaho bands had coalesced into two tribes: the Northern Arapaho and Southern Arapaho.
Since 1878 the Northern Arapaho Nation has lived with the Eastern Shoshone on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This is the seventh-largest reservation in the United States. The Southern Arapaho Tribe lives with the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma. Together their members are enrolled as a federally recognized tribe, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.


They are a group of Northern Paiute and indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. Their traditional lands include southeastern Oregon, southeastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and southwestern Montana. Today they are enrolled in the federally recognized Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation of Idaho, located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

Traditionally, Bannock people traded with surrounding tribes. After their adoption of the horse in the mid-18th century, they traded horses with the Nez Perce. They made pottery, utensils from mountain sheep horns, and carrying bags from salmon skin. Their petroglyphs date back before European contact, and, after the introduction of glass beads, they transferred their geometric design to beadwork. For water transport, they made tule reed rafts. Prior the late 19th century, Bannock people fished for salmon on the Snake River in Idaho and in the fall, they hunted buffalo herds. Buffalo hides provided material for tipis.

Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi (meaning “original people)

It is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana. The Blackfoot Confederacy consists of the North Peigan (Aapátohsipikáni), the Piegan Blackfeet or South Piegan (Aamsskáápipikani), the Kainai Nation (Káínaa: “Blood”), and the Siksika Nation (“Blackfoot”) or more correctly Siksikáwa (“Blackfoot people”). The South Peigan are located in Montana, and the other three are located in Alberta. Together they call themselves the Niitsítapi (the “Original People”). These groups shared a common language of the Algonquian family, as well as a common culture. They also had treaties of mutual defence, and members of the groups freely intermarried.

Caddo Nation

This is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes, who traditionally inhabited much of what is now East Texas, northern Louisiana and portions of southern Arkansas and Oklahoma. Today the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma is a cohesive tribe with its capital at Binger, Oklahoma. The different Caddo languages have converged into a single language.


Their language was of the Uto-Aztecan family, more precisely of the Takic division. They lived in Southern California, southwest of the San Bernardino Mountains. They lived in domed brush shelters or in rectangular thatched houses. They ate fish, small game, acorns, pine nuts, roots, berries, seed, corn, squash and beans. The word Cahuilla is believed to derive from the tribal word “kawiya”, which means “masters”. The Cahuillas were divided in two groups, the Coyote and the Wildcat, and both were subdivided in clans. The children belonged to their father’s clan and, when old enough, they had to marry a wife or husband from the other group and another clan. The hereditary leader of each clan was in charge of the clan ceremonies as well as of their wealth. Diseases were cured by the shaman, always a man, and by the women who made medicine from herbs and other plants.


They are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só’taeo’o (more commonly spelled as Sutaio) and the Tsétsêhéstâhese (more commonly spelled as Tsitsistas).

The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands around the Great Lakes in present-day Minnesota, perhaps around 1500. In historic times they moved west, migrating across the Mississippi River and into North and South Dakota. In the centuries before European contact, the Cheyenne were at times allied with bands of the Lakota and Arapaho. During the early 19th century, the Cheyenne formed a unified tribe, with more centralized authority through ritual ceremonies and structure than other Plains Indians.

In the 18th century, they moved in the Black Hills of South Dakota and in the Powder River Country of present-day Montana, they introduced the horse culture to Lakota (Sioux) bands about 1730. Allied with the Arapaho, the Cheyenne pushed the Kiowa to the South. In the next century, they were pushed west by the more numerous Lakota who had followed them into the Black Hills and Powder River Country. By the mid-nineteenth century, they were sometimes allied with other Plains tribes.

The Cheyenne are one of the best known of the Plains tribes. The Cheyenne Nation formed into ten bands, spread across the Great Plains, from southern Colorado to the Black Hills in South Dakota. At the same time, they created a centralized structure through ritual ceremonies, such as the Sun Dance. When gathered, the bands leaders met in formal council. Alone among the Plains tribes, they waged war at the tribal level, first against their traditional enemy, the Crow, and later (1856–1879) against United States Army forces. In the mid-19th century, the bands began to split, with some bands choosing to remain near the Black Hills, while others chose to remain near the Platte Rivers of central Colorado.

Choctaw (alternatively spelled Chahta, Chactas, Chato, Tchakta, Chocktaw, and Chactaw)

They are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States (Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana). The Choctaw language belongs to the Muskogean linguistic group. The Choctaw are descendants of the Mississippian culture and Hopewellian people, who lived throughout the east of the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. The early Spanish explorers of the 16th century encountered their ancestors. In the 19th century, the Choctaw were known as one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” because they adopted and integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European American colonial neighbours. During the American Revolution, most Choctaw supported the Thirteen Colonies’ bid for independence from the British Crown.

The Choctaw and the United States agreed to nine treaties. The last three treaties (Treaty of Doak’s Stand, Washington City, and Dancing Rabbit) were designed to transfer most Choctaw west of the Mississippi River. U.S. President Andrew Jackson made the Choctaw exile a model of Indian removal. They were the first Native Americans to travel on the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw were exiled (to the area now called Oklahoma) because the U.S. desired to expand territory available for settlement to European Americans, wanted to save them from extinction, and wanted to acquire their natural resources.

With ratification in 1831 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, those Choctaws who chose to stay in the newly formed state of Mississippi were the first major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens. Article 22 sought to put a Choctaw representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Choctaw began to seek political representation in the Congress of the United States in 1830. During the American Civil War, the Choctaw in both Oklahoma and Mississippi mostly sided with the Confederate States of America.

After the Civil War, the Mississippi Choctaw fell into obscurity. The Choctaw in Oklahoma struggled to maintain a nation. In World War I, they served in the U.S. military as the first Native American code-talkers, using the Choctaw language as a natural code.

Chumash (Historical)

Their language was of the Hokan family and they lived in Southern California, near present day Santa Barbara. They lived in large circular domed houses of pole construction, covered with woven grass. Reed mats were used as partition between families and to cover the floor. They ate acorns, pine nuts, cherries, seeds, berries, deer, small game, fish and waterfowl. The Chumash tribe was divided in at least six groups spread through Southern California. The head of each village was the richest man in the village. Wealth and position was transferred from father to son. They made good baskets, water bottles internally coated with a kind of asphalt, and other items by weaving reeds. The Chumash made long lightweight canoes from wooden planks bound together and coated with the same asphalt as the water bottles.


They are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range (the Comancheria) consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian culture, including the horse. There may have been as many as 45,000 Comanches in the late 18th century.

Today, the Comanche Nation consists of 14,700 members (2010 enrolment figures), about half of whom live in Oklahoma. The remainder are concentrated in Texas, California, and New Mexico. The tribe is headquartered in Lawton, Oklahoma. The Comanche speak the Comanche language, a Numic language of the Uto-Aztecan family, sometimes classified as a Shoshone dialect.


These Indians lived on the Central Coast of California. Their language was Penutian. They lived in domed houses made of a pole framework thatched with tule, grass and fern. Some were cone-shaped with redwood slabs. They ate acorns, seeds, nuts, berries, grapes, honey, fish, deer, bear, mountain lions and small game. Costanoan means “coast people” in Spanish. Each tribe had one or more villages, each headed by a chief (this could be a woman if no boys were born in the family) and a council of elders. There were two major clans, the Deer and the Bear, who had different functions in the tribes. The Costanoans worshipped the sun and other gods and the shamans were thought to be able to control the weather and cure diseases. Dreams were thought to have special meaning that only the shaman could understand. The hunters hid in deerhead disguises when hunting deer for food. Tribe members made baskets of reeds, fish traps and sifters for seeds and grain.


They are one of the largest groups of First Nations/Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. The major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although 15,000 live in eastern Quebec.

In the United States, this Algonquian-speaking people lived historically from Lake Superior westward. Today, they live mostly in Montana, where they share a reservation with the Ojibwe (Chippewa).

The documented westward migration over historic time has been strongly associated with their roles as middle men and hunters in the North American Fur Trade.

Creek (also Muscogee or Muskogee)

They are a Native American people traditionally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. Modern Muscogees live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Their language, Mvskoke, is a member of the Muscogee branch of the Muscogean language family. They were descendants of the Mississippian culture peoples, who built earthwork mounds at their regional chiefdoms located throughout the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries.

The Muscogee were the first Native Americans to be “civilized” under George Washington’s civilization plan. In the 19th century, the Muscogee were known as one of the “Five Civilized Tribes”, because they had integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their more recent European American neighbours. Influenced by their prophetic interpretations of an 1811 comet and earthquake, the Upper Towns of the Muscogee, supported by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, began to resist European-American encroachment. Internal divisions with the Lower Towns led to the Red Stick War (Creek War, 1813-1814) begun as a civil war within the Muscogee Nation, it enmeshed them in the War of 1812 against the United States.

During the Indian Removal of 1830, most of the Muscogee Nation moved to Indian Territory. The Muscogee Creek Nation based in Oklahoma is federally recognized, as are the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.

Crow (also called the Absaroka or Apsáalooke)

They are a Siouan-language tribe of Native Americans who historically lived in the Yellowstone River valley. They now live on a reservation south of Billings, Montana. Tribal headquarters are located at Crow Agency, Montana.
The name of the tribe, Apsáalooke, was translated into French by interpreters as “gens du corbeaux” (people of the crows). It means “children of the large-beaked bird,” a name given by their neighbouring tribe, the Hidatsa. The bird, perhaps now extinct, was defined as a fork-tailed bird resembling the blue jay or magpie. In 1743 the Absaroka first encountered people of European descent -the two La Vérendrye brothers from French Canada. The explorers called the Apsáalooke “beaux hommes” (handsome men). The Crow called the French Canadians “baashchíile” (persons with yellow eyes).

Some historians believe the early home of the Crow-Hidatsa ancestral tribe was near the headwaters of the Mississippi River in either northern Minnesota or Wisconsin; others place them in the Winnipeg area of Manitoba. Later the people moved to the Devil’s Lake region of North Dakota before the Crow split from the Hidatsa and moved westward. The Crow were largely pushed Westward by the intrusion and influx of the Sioux, the Sioux being pushed West themselves by American expansion. Once established in Montana and Wyoming, the Crow eventually divided into three groups: the Mountain Crow, River Crow and Kicked in the Bellies.

Eskimos (or Esquimaux) or Inuit–Yupik (for Alaska: Inupiat–Yupik)

These indigenous peoples have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region from eastern Siberia (Russia), across Alaska (United States), Canada, and Greenland.

There are two main groups that are referred to as Eskimo: Yupik and Inuit. A third group, the Aleut, is related. The Yupik language dialects and cultures in Alaska and eastern Siberia have evolved in place beginning with the original (pre-Dorset) Eskimo culture that developed in Alaska. Approximately 4,000 years ago the Unangam (also known as Aleut) culture became distinctly separate, and evolved into a non-Eskimo culture. Approximately 1,500–2,000 years ago, apparently in Northwestern Alaska, two other distinct variations appeared. The Inuit language branch became distinct and in only several hundred years spread across northern Alaska, Canada and into Greenland. At about the same time, the Thule Technology also developed in northwestern Alaska and very quickly spread over the entire area occupied by Eskimo people, though it was not necessarily adopted by all of them.

The earliest known Eskimo cultures were Pre-Dorset Technology, which appear to have been a fully developed Eskimo culture that dates to 5,000 years ago. They appear to have evolved in Alaska from people using the Arctic small tool tradition, who probably had migrated to Alaska from Siberia at least 2,000 to 3,000 years earlier; though they might have been in Alaska as far back as 10,000 to 12,000 years or more. There are similar artefacts found in Siberia going back to perhaps 18,000 years ago.

Today the two main groups of Eskimos are the Inuit of northern Alaska, Canada and Greenland, and the Yupik, comprising speakers of four distinct Yupik languages and originating in western Alaska, in South Central Alaska along the Gulf of Alaska coast, and in the Russian Far East.

In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat. No universal term other than Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik peoples. In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has fallen out of favour, as it is sometimes considered pejorative and has been replaced by the term Inuit. The Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, sections 25 and 35 recognized the Inuit as a distinctive group of aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Fox (also Meskwaki, Mesquakie or Meskwahki)

They are a Native American people often known to outsiders as the Fox tribe. They have often been closely linked to the Sauk people. In their own language, the Meskwaki call themselves Meshkwahkihaki, which means “the Red-Earths.” Historically their homelands were in the Great Lakes region where the tribe was first located in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario; and later Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. In the 19th century Euro-American colonization and settlement proceeded forcing resettlement south into the tall grass prairie in the Midwest. The Meskwaki, within the designation ‘Sac and Fox,’ currently have reservations in Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.


Their language was of the Uto-Aztecan family, more precisely of the Takic division. They lived in Southern California, near present day Los Angeles. They lived in large, multi-family structures covered with tule mats. They ate acorns, pine nuts, fish, sea lions, deer and small game. A hereditary chief headed each Gabrieleño village. In the absence of son, a daughter could become chief. The chief’s job was to settle arguments, leads war parties and to help the villagers. The people believed in many gods and sacred beings such as crows, eagles and owls. They also believed that spirits lived in springs and lakes. Each year the tribe had an eight-day ceremony during which babies were named and the dead were remembered with life-size image of them. They made beautiful baskets, pottery, carved pipes and ornaments.


The Hopi and Zuni are believed to descend from the ancient Puebloan cultures who constructed large apartment-house complexes in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. They lived along the Mogollon Rim, especially from the AD 1100s through the 1300s, when they abandoned their large villages. The reason is unknown although it is likely that a drying of watercourses would have forced the peoples away.

The first recorded European contact with the Hopi was by the Spanish in 1540. The first Hopi village they visited was Awatovi where there were about 16,000 Hopi and Zuni people. A few years later, the Spanish explorer García López de Cárdenas investigated the Rio Grande and met the Hopi. They warmly entertained Cardenas and his men and directed him on his journey. In 1582–1583 the Hopi were visited by Antonio de Espejo’s expedition. He found five Hopi villages and around 12,000 Hopi people.

The Spanish colonized near the Rio Grande and, because the Hopi did not live near rivers that gave access to the Río Grande, the Spanish never left any troops on their land. With the arrival of 30 friars in Hopi country in 1629, the Franciscan Period started. The Franciscans missionaries built a church at Awatovi. The Hopi originally were against conversion to Catholicism. After an incident where Father Porras purportedly restored the sight of a blind youth by placing a cross over his eyes, the Hopi at Awatovi believed in Christianity. Most Hopi in the other villages continued to resist conversion, wanting to maintain their own ways.

The priests were not very successful in converting the natives, and persecuted the Hopi for keeping their religion. The Spaniards took advantage of Hopi labor and the products they produced. The harsh treatment by the Spanish caused the Hopi to become less tolerant. Eventually the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians suggested a revolt in the year 1680, and Hopi supported them.

This was the first time that different Pueblo people had worked together to drive the Spanish colonists away. The Hopi revolted against the Spanish, attacking missions, killing friars and destroying the Catholic churches. After the revolt it took two decades for the Spanish to reassert their control over the Rio Grande Pueblos. Spanish influence in the distant Hopi country was limited, but by 1700, the friars had begun rebuilding a smaller church at Awatovi. During the winter of 1700–01, the other Hopi villages sacked Awatoviat. Despite intermittent attempts in the 17th century, the Spanish failed to re-establish a presence in the Hopi country.

Hopi is a federally recognized tribe of indigenous Native American people, who primarily live on the 2,531.773 sq miles Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people. Their Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Hopi Reservation is entirely surrounded by the much larger Navajo Reservation. The two nations used to share the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area, but this was a source of conflict. The partition of this area, commonly known as Big Mountain, by Acts of Congress in 1974 and 1996, has also resulted in long-term controversy.


These Indians lived in Northwestern California, along the Trinity River. Their language was Athapascan. The family house was built over a square earth pit, with cedar planks and a three-pitched roof. They ate salmon, trout, nuts, sturgeon, berries, seeds, deer and elk. Hupa women wore a basket cap to cushion the straps that held their carrying baskets. They made baskets, bowls and storage containers that held the family possessions such as white deerskins, headdresses decorated with redheaded woodpecker feathers, and shells that were used as money. These treasures were the wealth of the family and were used to decide which was the most important family. Hupa Indians believed in many gods and holy beings. They had two big religious ceremonies every year as well as ceremonies celebrating the return of the salmons from the ocean to their rivers each spring and the time when acorns were ripe for picking and making into flour.

Illinois Confederation (sometimes referred to as the Illiniwek or Illini)

The Illinois Confederation was a group of twelve to thirteen tribes in the upper Mississippi River valley of North America. The tribes were the Kaskaskia, the Cahokia, the Peoria, the Tamaroa, Moingwena, Michigamea, Albiui, Amonokoa, Chepoussa, Chinkoa, Coiracoentanon, Espeminkia, Maroa, Matchinkoa, Michibousa, Negawichi, and Tapouara. At the time of European contact in the 17th century, they were believed to number several thousand people. When French explorers first journeyed to the region from Canada in the early 17th century, they found the area inhabited by a vigorous, populous Algonquian-speaking nation. The Illinois spoke various dialects of the Miami-Illinois language, one of the Algonquian language family.

In the 17th century, the Illinois suffered from a combination of exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases, to which they had no natural immunity, and warfare by the expansion of the Iroquois into the eastern Great Lakes region. The Iroquois had hunted out their traditional lands and sought more productive hunting and trapping areas. They sought furs to purchase European goods in the fur trade. When a Peoria warrior murdered the Ottawa war chief Pontiac in 1769, the northern tribes retaliated against the Illiniwek. They suffered more losses. Many of the Illinois migrated to present-day eastern Kansas to escape the pressure from other tribes and encroaching Europeans settlers.

Iowa (also spelled Ioway), also known as the Báxoje,

They are a Native American Siouan people. Today they are enrolled in either of two federally recognized tribes, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma and the Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.

European settlers applied Ioway to the state (Iowa) where this tribe of Native Americans were once found in various locations, as well as to a county and river (Iowa County, Iowa; Iowa River) within it. Together with the Missouria and the Otoe, the Ioway are part of the Chiwere-speaking peoples, claiming the Ho-Chunks as their “grandfathers.” Their estimated population of 1,100 (in 1760) dropped to 800 (in 1804), a decrease caused mainly by smallpox, to which they had no natural immunity.

In 1824, the Iowa were moved to reservations in Brown County, Kansas, and Richardson County, Nebraska. Bands of Iowa moved to Indian Territory in the late 19th century and settled south of Perkins, Oklahoma, becoming the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. The Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska operates the Casino White Cloud at White Cloud, Kansas on the Ioway Reservation.

Iroquois  (also known as the Haudenosaunee or the “People of the Longhouse”)

The Iroquois league is an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America. After the Iroquoian-speaking peoples coalesced as distinct tribes in the 16th century or earlier, they came together in an association known today as the Iroquois League, or the “League of Peace and Power”. The original Iroquois League was often known as the Five Nations, as it was composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations. After the Tuscarora nation joined the League in 1722, the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations. The League is embodied in the Grand Council, an assembly of fifty hereditary sachems.

When Europeans first arrived in North America, the Iroquois were based in what is now the northeastern United States, primarily in what is referred to today as upstate New York west of the Hudson River and through the Finger Lakes region. Today, the Iroquois live primarily in New York, Quebec, and Ontario.

The Iroquois League has also been known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois League refers to the ceremonial and cultural institution embodied in the Grand Council, while the Iroquois Confederacy was the decentralized political and diplomatic entity that emerged in response to European colonization. The League still exists. The Confederacy dissolved after the defeat of the British and allied Iroquois nations in the American Revolutionary War.


These Indians lived in Northwestern California, along the Klamath River. Their language was Hokan-Karok. The family house for women and children was built of planks over earth pit while the men and older boys slept in earth sweathouses, dug several feet deep and covered with planks. They ate salmon, deer, acorns, bear, elk, small game and venison. The name Karok meant “upstream” while their neighbours down the river were called Yurok meaning, of course, “downstream”. There were three clusters of Karok villages, with no real leader except that rich men had more power. The Karok were hardworking and thrifty, they used shells for money; for instance shells were used to pay fines when a tribe member committed a crime. Karok women wore necklaces and had three lines tattooed on their chins. Both men and women wore earrings and nose ornaments. Warriors wore woven rod vests as protective armour.


This is a nation of American Indians who migrated from the Northern Plains around the 17th century to their present location in southwestern Oklahoma. Today, they are a federally recognized tribe, the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, with over 11,500 members.

The Kiowa were patrilineal with a chiefdom living in semi-sedentary structures. They were hunters and gatherers, meaning they did not live in one area long enough to grow plants or crops, but did trade with sedentary tribes that grew crops. The Kiowas migrated with the American bison because it was their main food source along with an abundant supply of antelope, deer, wild berries, wild fruit, turkeys and other wild game. Dogs dragged travois and rawhide parfleche that contained camping goods for short moves that were for long periods of time. With the introduction of the horse the Kiowa revolutionized their economy and when they arrived on the Plains they were a fully mounted warrior nation. The horses were acquired from Spanish rancherias south of the Rio Grande River.

The new Kiowa and Plains Apache homeland lay in the southwestern plains adjacent to the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado and western Kansas and the Red River drainage of the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. The Kiowas had a well structured tribal government like most tribes on the Northern Plains. They had a yearly Sun Dance gathering and a chieftain who was considered to be the leader of the entire tribe. There were warrior societies and religious societies that made up the Kiowa society. Kiowa government was democratic. The ideal personality of the Kiowas was that of the young fearless warrior. The entire tribe was structured around this individual. The warrior was the ideal to which young men aspired. Because of these factors, the Kiowa was of utmost importance in the history of the Southern Plains. The women gain prestige through the achievements of their husbands, sons, and fathers or through their own achievements in the arts. Kiowa women tanned, skin-sewed, quilled, painted geometric designs on parfleche and later beaded hides. The Kiowa women took care of the camp while the men were away. They gathered and prepared food for winter months and participated in events.


They are an Algonquian group of Native Americans from the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. Today they live in Canada (where they are enrolled in the ‘Munsee-Delaware Nation 1, Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and the Delaware of Six Nations) and in the United States, where they are enrolled in three federally recognized tribes (the Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians, both located in Oklahoma, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, located in Wisconsin). The Lenape are also found in places where they are not legally recognized by the settler nation-state, such as the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania.

At the time of European contact in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Lenape lived in the area referred to as Lenapehoking, roughly the area around and between the Delaware and lower Hudson Rivers. This encompassed what are now known as the U.S. state of New Jersey; eastern Pennsylvania around the Delaware and Lehigh valleys; the north shore of Delaware; and much of southeastern New York, particularly the lower Hudson Valley, Upper New York Bay, Staten Island and western Long Island. They spoke two related languages in the Algonquian subfamily, collectively known as the Delaware languages: Unami and Munsee.

Lenape society is organized into clans determined by matrilineal descent. Territory was collective, but divided by clan. At the time of European contact, the Lenape practiced large-scale agriculture. They also practiced hunting and the harvesting of seafood. They were primarily sedentary, moving to different established campsites by season.

After the arrival of settlers and traders to the 17th-century colony of New Netherland, the Lenape and other native peoples became extensively involved in the North American fur trade. Their trapping depleted the beaver population in the region. The Lenape were further weakened by newly introduced infectious diseases, and by conflict with both Europeans and the traditional Lenape enemies, the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock. Over the next centuries, they were pushed out of their lands by Iroquoian enemies, treaties and overcrowding by European settlers, and moved west into the Ohio River valley. In the 1860s, most Lenape remaining in the Eastern United States were sent to the Oklahoma Territory. In the 21st century, most Lenape now reside in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, with some communities living also in Kansas, Wisconsin, Ontario, and in their traditional homelands.


Their language was of the Uto-Aztecan family, more precisely of the Takic division. They lived on the Southern California coast. They lived in cone-shaped houses thatched with reeds, brush or bark. In winter some of them used earthen homes. They ate acorns, seeds, nuts, berries, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, small game, deer, fish and waterfowl. The Luiseño loved ceremonies and had many every year. They celebrated hunting trips, the coming of age of children, marriage, rain-making, peace and war. When a member of the tribe died, there was a special ceremony to protect the family from evil spirits. Each village had a special place where to hold the ceremonies. They also had sweathouses that, they believed, kept them healthy and more religious. The Luiseño people made sand paintings used in the religious ceremonies.


Miami are members of a Native American nation originally found in what is now Indiana, southwest Michigan, and western Ohio. These days the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma is the only federally recognized tribe of Miami Indians in the United States. Another unrecognized tribe, Miami Tribe of Indiana, is a nonprofit group in Indiana.

Early Miami people are considered to belong to the Fischer Tradition of Mississippian culture. Mississippian societies were characterized by maize-based agriculture, chiefdom-level social organization, extensive regional trade networks, hierarchical settlement patterns, and other factors. The historical Miami engaged in hunting, as did other Mississippian peoples.

During historic times, the Miami were known to have migrated south from Wisconsin from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century, by which time they had settled on the Wabash River. When French missionaries first encountered the Miami in the mid-17th century they were living around the western shores of Lake Michigan. The migration was likely a result of their being invaded by the more powerful Iroquois, who travelled far from their territory of New York for better hunting during the beaver fur trade.

At this time, the major divisions of the Miami were:
Atchakangouen (also Atchatchakangouen or Greater Miami)
Mengkonkia (Mengakonia)
Pepikokia (Kithtippecanuck)
Piankeshaw (Newcalenous)
Wea (Ouiatenon)

By the 18th century, the Miami had for the most part returned to their homeland in present-day Indiana and Ohio. The eventual victory of the British in the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) led to an increased British presence in traditional Miami areas.

Shifting alliances and the gradual encroachment of European-American settlement led to some Miami bands merging. Native Americans created larger tribal confederacies led by Chief Little Turtle; their alliances were for waging war against Europeans and to fight advancing white settlement. By the end of the century, the tribal divisions were three: the Miami, Piankeshaw, and Wea. The latter two groups were closely aligned with some of the Illini tribes. The US government later included them with the Illini for administrative purposes. The Eel River band maintained a somewhat separate status, which proved beneficial in the removals of the 19th century. The nation’s traditional capital was Kekionga.

Micmac (also Míkmaq)

They are a First Nations people, indigenous to the northeastern American region of New England, Canada’s Atlantic Provinces, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec.

The Mi’kmaw territory was divided into seven traditional “districts”. Each district had its own independent government and boundaries. The independent governments had a district chief and a council. The council members were band chiefs, elders, and other worthy community leaders. The district council was charged with performing all the duties of any independent and free government by enacting laws, justice, apportioning fishing and hunting grounds, making war, suing for peace, etc. The Seven Mi’kmaq Districts are Kespukwitk, Sikepnékatik, Eskíkewaq, Unamákik, Piktuk aqq Epekwitk, Sikniktewaq, and Kespékewaq.

In addition to the district councils, there was also a Grand Council or Santé Mawiómi. The Grand Council was composed of “Keptinaq”, or captains in English, who were the district chiefs. There were also Elders, the Putús (Wampum belt readers and historians, who also dealt with the treaties with the non-natives and other Native tribes), the women council, and the Grand Chief. The Grand Chief was a title given to one of the district chiefs, which was usually from the Mi’kmaq district of Unamáki or Cape Breton Island. This title was hereditary and usually went to the Grand Chief’s eldest son. The Grand Council met on a little island on the Bras d’Or lake in Cape Breton called “Mniku”, on a reserve today called Chapel Island or Potlotek. To this day, the Grand Council still meets at the Mniku to discuss current issues within the Mi’kmaq Nation.

The Mi’kmaq were members of the Wapnáki (Wabanaki Confederacy), an alliance with four other Algonquian-language nations: the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet. The allied tribes ranged from present-day New England in the United States to the Maritime Provinces of Canada. At the time of contact with the French (late 16th century), they were expanding from their maritime base westward along the Gaspé Peninsula /St. Lawrence River at the expense of Iroquoian Mohawk tribes, hence the Míkmaq name for this peninsula, Kespek (“last-acquired”). On June 24 1610, Grand Chief Membertou converted to Catholicism and was baptised. He concluded an alliance with the French Jesuits which affirmed the right of Mi’kmaq to choose Catholicism and\or Mi’kmaw tradition

The Mi’kmaq, as allies with the French, were amenable to limited French settlement in their midst. After France lost political control of Acadia in 1710, the Mí’kmaq engaged in warfare against the British throughout Dummer’s War, King George’s War, Father Le Loutre’s War and the French and Indian War. Along with Acadians, the Mi’kmaq used military force to resist the founding of British (Protestant) settlements in Halifax, Dartmouth, Lawrencetown and Lunenburg,. During the French and Indian War, the Mi’kmaq assisted the Acadians in resisting the British during the Expulsion of the Acadians. The military resistance ended with the French defeat at the Siege of Louisbourg (1758) in Cape Breton. After the war, the Mi’kmaq soon found themselves overwhelmed by the British, who seized much of their land without payment.

Between 1725 and 1779, the Mí’kmaq signed a series of peace and friendship treaties with Great Britain, but none of these were land cession treaties. The nation historically consisted of seven districts, which was later expanded to eight with the ceremonial addition of Great Britain at the time of the 1749 treaty. Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope signed a Peace Treaty in 1752 on behalf of the Shubenacadie Mi’kmaq.

Later the Mí’kmaq also settled Newfoundland as the unrelated Beothuk tribe became extinct. Mí’kmaq delegates concluded the first international treaty, the Treaty of Watertown, with the United States soon after it gained its independence, in July 1776. These delegates did not officially represent the Mi’kmaq government, although many individual Mi’kmaq did privately join the Continental army as a result.

On August 31, 2010, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed an historic agreement with the Mi’kmaq Nation, establishing a process whereby they must consult with the Mi’kmaq Grand Council before engaging in any activities or projects that affect the Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia. This is the first such collaborative agreement in Canadian history including all the First Nations within an entire province.

The nation has a population of about 40,000 (+ 20,000 in the Qalipu First Nation of whom nearly 11,000 speak the Algonquian language Lnuísimk, more commonly known as “Micmac”). On September 26th, 2011 the Government of Canada Announced the creation of Canada’s newest Mi’kmaq First Nations Band, the Qalipu First Nations, in Newfoundland and Labrador. The new landless band has accepted 20,000 applications to become part of the band.


These Indians lived on the Central Coast of California, between San Francisco and Monterey. Their language was Penutian. They lived in cone-shaped structures made from pole framework covered with bark, brush, grass or tule. They ate acorns, pine nuts, buckeyes, berries, seeds, roots, fish, deer, elk, bear, small game and waterfowl. The Minok lived in small villages, several of which formed a small tribe speaking the same dialect. Each small tribe had its own chief who settled arguments and decided when to harvest acorns, their main diet. The Minok were fond of dancing and they performed them during religious ceremonies and during social events. The dance house was an important part of every village as was the sweathouse where only men could enter. In some tribes, women had important functions such as organising festivals and making sure that the dance house was built properly. They also believed that their shaman could control the weather and find things lost by people. The tribe made baskets to beat seeds from plants and to be used as cradles for their babies. They wove rabbit skins into blankets.


The Mohawks call themselves “Kanye Kehå-Ka” a word that, in their language, means “People of the Land of Gun Flint”. They are part of the Iroquois group. Their homeland is near the Hudson River in what is now Eastern New York State. They once travelled from the St. Lawrence River south to Tennessee and west to the Mississippi River.

The Indians used “Wampum” to help them remember, to record events and to pay for a murder victim. Wampum was made of beads arranged in special patterns on leather cords or strings made from plants. If wampum were not exchanged at a council meeting, or if a wampum belt was dropped on the ground, that meant that there was no agreement. Only trained Indians could interpret wampum and today very few people can do it.

Under the Great Law the Mohawks were called the “Keepers of the Eastern Door” as their land was at the eastern edge of the Iroquois territory.

The early Mohawks lived in longhouse that could be 200 feet long. Small tree trunks were used to build the frame that was then covered with tree bark. Over the doors at both ends of the building totems (emblems) of the Mohawks clan living there were erected. The Mohawks had only three clans: the Turtle, Bear, and Wolf. Members of the same Mohawks clans were related and members of the same clans in other Iroquois tribes were also relatives. Clan members were always welcomed by their relatives in other villages.

Women of one longhouse were sisters, mothers, or daughters of the same family. Clan mothers arranged the marriages of their children but there was no marriage among members of the same clan. When a man married he moved into his wife’s longhouse. Children were loved and elders respected. There was no jail but people could be sent away from their tribe. As surviving alone in the forest was practically impossible, this punishment was in fact a death sentence.

Longhouses stood in clearings in the middle of the forest. They were surrounded by small farm plots where they grew many vegetables (mainly corn, beans and squash) and fruits. Corn, beans and squash were known as the “Three Sisters” as they were planted together in a mound. The corn would support the beans and the squash would cover the ground. Mohawk women took care of the longhouse, did the farming and raised the children while the men cleared the fields, hunted, fished, and taught their sons the way to survive in the forests. Men were also in charge of wars and defence after a clan mother had approved it.

Mohawks respect all living things and children learn about the Mohawk view of the world through stories that deal with the sun, thunder, wind, stars and the spirits of the plant and animal worlds. Celebrations include ceremonial dances and traditional songs.

Dutch, French, and English fought each other in North America in the 1600s and 1700s. The Mohawks tried to stay out of these wars but they were caught in them. The Mohawks, led by Chief Joseph Brant, fought with the British against the Americans during the American Revolution. After the war was over the Americans attacked the Mohawks, destroyed their villages and removed them from their lands. The British gave them six square miles of land in Akwesasne on the St. Lawrence River in Canada far away from their beautiful Mohawk Valley.

Today not all the Mohawks live in Akwesasne and their nation is divided. One group has elected “trustees” since 1802 while a traditionalist group is trying to continue to live the old sachem ways. Mohawks were among the first Native Americans to adapt to the industrial way of life. They are now employed in many trades and they live as all the American people around them do.


The Navajos call themselves “Dineh”, the People. They travelled eastern from the Pacific coast to the present town of Farmington, New Mexico. The Ute and the Pueblo tribes occupied most of the territory and they became the Navajo enemies. The Dineh broke up in small bands in order to find land to live on. The Navajo territory is made up of canyons and mesas and is known as “Dinetah” which means “among the people or Navajo homeland”.

Navajos painted pictures of their four holy God, Yei as well as corn, deer and antelope on canyon walls. Later on they drew pictures of the first white men they saw, mainly Spanish explorers and missionaries accompanied by horses, sheep and cattle.

In the 1600’s the Spanish had conquered the Navajos’ neighbours, the Pueblo, who became their slaves tending to their cattle and to their houses and gardens. The Pueblos revolted in 1680 and the Spaniards who were not killed fled. Their animals escaped in the mountains where they were captured by the Navajos who settled there. However they had to leave as the Utes often attacked them and they suffered a drought.

By 1750 the Navajos had moved to the valleys and the mountains around Canyon de Chelly in northeast Arizona. By now they had livestock but they went on hunting deer, mountain sheep, antelope and rabbits which skins they used for their clothing. They also grew corn, beans and squash in fields called “Nabaju” or “great planted fields” by the Spanish. This word is at the origin of the name of the tribe, Navajo. In the 1700s the Navajos used horses for hunting and fighting. They raided Spanish settlers as well as other tribes to steal horses, sheep and goats. Having taken the habit of eating sheep they renounced to hunt wild animals and concentrated on raising livestock. They became wealthy and were feared by both the other tribes and the Spanish settlers.

Navajos did not live in villages but, on the contrary, individual families lived alone in what are now New Mexico and Arizona. When the grass was consumed the families moved to better grazing and farming land. The Navajos did not own the land farmed or used for grazing. When a piece of land was not used for a season it was available to others. As they moved frequently, their home, known as “forked-stick hogan”, was easy to build. Their house was based on three supporting poles and covered with mud and brushes with a door facing east to allow the early morning light to brighten it. Later on they built more permanent hogans made of logs covered with mud. They were circular or octagonal in shape. The Navajos believed that bad spirit entered a hogan if a person died in it. To avoid the bad spirits they would abandon the house and build a new one. Before moving in, the new hogan was blessed to make sure that no bad spirit was in it.

Each family had a loom and all the women learned to spin wool and cotton into yarn and to dye fabric using natural colours. Now animal skins were only used for moccasins. Women’s dresses were made of two blankets sewn at the shoulders and belted at the waist while men wore cotton shirts and trousers. The children wore the same clothes as the adults. As the families lived apart the Navajos had no tribal leader but all family groups had a headman who had no power over the other families. The men banded together to defend their families.

The Navajo grandmother was the centre of the family life as the children belonged to her and to her clan. The ownership of the sheep was at the base of the women’s power. A lamb was given to a child when he or she was four or six year old and they were expected to take care of it. They were not considered as children and they began to learn adult responsibilities. When a girl married her mother gave her some sheep and her husband received some from his mother too. The bride’s relatives built a new hogan for the young couple near her mother’s home.

The Navajos believe that everything in the universe has a purpose and a place, that there is good in all things and that evil and danger occur when the normal balance of the universe is disturbed. Sickness is not due to germs but because some evil has been released. A medicine man, or singer, restore order by performing a “singing ceremony” that must be performed according to strict rules. The medicine man learns the ritual words and sand painting by studying for many years with older medicine men.

Some ceremonies required to protect families, homes, sheep, and crop and to heal could last several nights. The Navajos believe that the ritual songs, prayers, stories and paintings attract the Yei, the Holy Ones. If they are pleased with the way the ceremony is performed they will restore the balance and “set things right”. The singer may do several sand paintings or sacred pictures representing the Holy Ones during the ceremony. These are made with crushed sandstone, corn pollen or the charcoal of a tree struck by lightning.

The Navajo land belonged to Mexico until 1848 when it became part of the United State. The American white men came to look for silver and gold and fighting soon followed. The Navajos were used to fight the Utes and Pueblos but the American soldiers were different. The U.S. soldiers asked the Indians to sign a treaty to stop fighting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1848. A few Navajo headmen agree but they had no authority over the whole tribe and most Navajos did not accept it. The U.S. Army built Fort Defiance in the middle of the Navajo territory to enforce the treaty, but the Indians fought back. In 1863 Colonel Kit Carson was ordered to kill all the Navajo warriors and to capture the women and children. His soldiers burned all the fields and the hogans they came across and killed the sheep. With no home and no food 8,000 Indians had to surrender at Fort Defiance the following winter.

From there the Indians were forced to walk 300 miles to Fort Summer also in New Mexico. During what became to be known as “The Long Walk” more than 300 Navajos died from exhaustion and disease and the soldiers shot many more. At Fort Summer the Indians were placed on a Reservation from which they could not leave. They were supposed to grow their own food but the soil was poor and many died of hunger. Moreover the Comanche who lived near-by raided and killed the Navajos and in addition more than 2,000 died of smallpox.

In June 1868 the remaining Navajos were allowed to leave Fort Summer to return to their homeland which was now a reservation. This reservation is in part of present day Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The Navajos are still the largest of all North American tribes.

The Navajos resettled in their lands but they were very poor, as the dry soil was not good for farming. They were given many sheep by the U.S. government but the available pasture was small and allowed only small herds. As their farms and sheep could not support them the government had to give them food and clothing. From the Mexicans they learned to be silversmiths. They made buttons and jewellery using nickels, dimes and quarters but they also used turquoise. White traders put us stores on the reservation and the Navajos traded their jewellery for cloth and other needed items.

The women liked the material they bought from the traders and they learned to sow blouses that they adorned with silver jewellery. Both men and women wore silver concha belts decorated with silver disks. When the Navajos understood the use of money they began selling their silver and turquoise jewellery and weaving. In this way the Navajos became famous for their beautiful rugs, blankets and jewellery and even today they are still selling the same goods that are known worldwide.

Some Navajos still live in their traditional hogans but most prefer to live in brick houses in villages or small towns. Most families do not have sheep and horses anymore but in those who do, the mothers still own the animals. The children now go to school controlled by the local community; there they are taught the Navajo history and language in order to keep the tribal traditions alive. Although there are tribal college most high school graduated children prefer to attend colleges and universities outside the reservations. There are now Navajo doctors, nurses, lawyers and teachers on the reservations and in most cities all over the USA. The Navajos now elect a president to lead a central tribal government of the whole tribe but the people still continue to belong to clans.

Ojibwe (also Ojibwa or Ojibway) or Chippewa (also Chippeway)

They are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit. In the United States, they had the fourth-largest population among Native American tribes, surpassed only by Navajo, Cherokee and the Lakota. Because many Ojibwe lived initially around the outlet of Lake Superior, which the French colonists called Sault Ste. Marie, they referred to the Ojibwe as Saulteurs. Ojibwe who subsequently moved to the prairie provinces of Canada have retained the name Saulteaux. Ojibwe who were originally located about the Mississagi River and made their way to southern Ontario are known as the Mississaugas.

The Ojibwe peoples are a major component group of the Anishinaabe-speaking peoples, a branch of the Algonquian language family which includes the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree, Odawa and the Potawatomi. The Ojibwe peoples number over 56,440 in the U.S., living in an area stretching across the northern tier from Michigan west to Montana. Another 77,940 of main-line Ojibwe, 76,760 Saulteaux, and 8,770 Mississaugas, in 125 bands, live in Canada, stretching from western Quebec to eastern British Columbia. They are historically known for their crafting of birch bark canoes, sacred birch bark scrolls, use of cowrie shells for trading, cultivation of wild rice, and use of copper arrow points. In 1745 they adopted guns from the British to use to defeat and push the Dakota nation of the Sioux to the south.

The Ojibwe Nation was the first to agree some treaties with European-Canadian leaders before many European settlers were allowed too far west.

Paiute (also Piute)

The name refers to three closely related groups of Native Americans:
—    the Northern Paiute of California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon;
—    the Owens Valley Paiute of California and Nevada;
—    the Southern Paiute of Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah.

The Northern and Southern Paiute both speak languages belonging to the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan family of Native American languages. Usage of the terms Paiute, Northern Paiute and Southern Paiute is most correct when referring to groups of people with similar language and culture. It does not imply a political connection or even an especially close genetic relationship. The Northern Paiute speak the Northern Paiute language, while the Southern Paiute speak the Ute-Southern Paiute language. These languages are not as closely related to each other as they are to other Numic languages.

The Bannock, Mono tribe, and Coso People, Timbisha and Kawaiisu peoples, who also speak Numic languages and live in adjacent areas, are sometimes referred to as Paiute. The Bannock speak a dialect of Northern Paiute, while the Mono Tribe and other three peoples speak separate Numic languages: Mono language is more closely related to Northern Paiute, as is Coso; Timbisha language is more closely related to Shoshoni, and Kawaiisu language is more closely related to Ute-Southern Paiute.

The origin of the word Paiute is unclear. The Northern Paiute call themselves Numa (sometimes written Numu); the Southern Paiute call themselves Nuwuvi. Both terms mean “the people.” The Northern Paiute are sometimes referred to as Paviotso. Early Euro-American settlers often called both groups of Paiute “Diggers” presumably because of their practice of digging for roots.

Pawnee people (also Paneassa, Pari, Pariki)

These people are a Caddoan-speaking Native American tribe. They are federally recognized as the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma.

Historically, the Pawnee lived along outlying tributaries of the Missouri River: the Platte, Loup and Republican rivers in present-day Nebraska and in northern Kansas. They lived in permanent earth lodge villages where they farmed. They left the villages on seasonal buffalo hunts, using tipis while travelling.

In the 1830s, the Pawnee numbered about 2,000 people, as they had escaped some of the depredations of exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases. By 1859, their numbers were reduced to about 1,400. Still subject to encroachment by the Lakota and European Americans, finally most accepted relocation to a reservation in Indian Territory. This is where most of the enrolled members of the nation live today. Their autonym is Chatickas-si-Chaticks, meaning “women of men”.


These Indians lived in Northern California, in the Russian River valley. Their language was Hokan-Pomo (Pomoan). They lived in cone-shaped or circular houses covered with either tule or bark. They ate acorns, fish, deer, elk, waterfowl, roots, berries and small game. There were seven groups of Pomo Indians, each with their own dialect. Each group was divided in small tribes who were headed by a chief. Sometime some small tribes would unite for a specific reason. Their religion was very complicated. Members of the tribes dressed like gods and ghost and performed their dances to celebrate the ripening of crops, to welcome young boys as adults and to ask for good crops and fortune from the gods. A plant called “tule” was used to make baskets, moccasins, mats, and boots and to build their houses.

Pueblo people

They are a Native American people in the Southwestern United States. Their traditional economy is based on agriculture and trade. When first encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, they were living in villages that the Spanish called pueblos, meaning “villages”. Of the 21 pueblos that exist today, Taos, Acoma, Zuni, and Hopi are the best-known. The main Pueblos are located primarily in Arizona, and New Mexico and also in Texas and formerly in Colorado.

Kirchhoff (1954) published a subdivision of the Pueblo People into two subareas:

  •   the group that includes Hopi, Zuñi, Keres, Jemez which share exogamous matrilineal clans, have multiple kivas, believe in emergence of people from the underground, have four or six directions beginning in the north, and have four and seven as ritual numbers
  • This group stands in contrast to the Rammal-speaking Pueblos (except Jemez) who have nonexogamous patrilineal clans, two kivas or two groups of kivas and a general belief in dualism, emergence of people from underwater, five directions beginning in the west, and ritual numbers based on multiples of three.

Eggan (1950) in contrast, posed a dichotomy between Eastern and Western Pueblos, based largely on subsistence differences with the Western or Desert Pueblos of Zuñi and Hopi dry-farmers and the Eastern or River Pueblos irrigation farmers. They mostly grew corn.

Linguistic differences between the Pueblos point to their diverse origins. The Hopi language is Uto-Aztecan; Zuñi is a language isolate; Keresan is a dialect continuum that includes Acoma, Laguna, Santa Ana, Zia, Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe. The Tanoan is an areal grouping of three branches of the Tanoan family consisting of 6 languages: Towa (Jemez), Tewa (San Juan, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Tesuque, Nambe, Pojoaque, and Hano); and the 3 Tiwa languages Taos, Picuris, and Southern Tiwa (Sandia, Isleta).

Shawnee (or Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki)

They are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Today there are three federally recognized Shawnee tribes:
–    Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma,
–    Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma,
–    Shawnee Tribe,

All these three tribes  are headquartered in Oklahoma.

The Shawnee traditionally considered the Lenape (or Delaware) their “grandfathers” while the Algonquian nations of present-day Canada regarded the Shawnee as their southernmost branch. Along the East Coast, the Algonquian-speaking tribes were mostly located in coastal areas, from Quebec to the Carolinas. Algonquian languages have words similar to the archaic shawano (now: shaawanwa) meaning “south”. However, the stem shaawa- does not mean “south” in Shawnee, but “moderate, warm (of weather)”. In one Shawnee tale, Shaawaki is the deity of the south.

Shoshone or Shoshoni

They  are a Native American tribe in the United States with three large divisions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern.

They traditionally spoke the Shoshoni language, a part of the Numic languages branch of the large Uto-Aztecan language family. The Shoshone were sometimes called the Snake Indians by early ethnic European trappers, travellers, and settlers.

The Northern Shoshone are concentrated in eastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and northeastern Utah.

The Eastern Shoshone tribes lived in Wyoming, northern Colorado and Montana. After 1750, warfare and pressure from the Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho pushed them south and westward. Some of them moved as far south as Texas, to become the Comanche.

The Western Shoshone tribes lived in Oregon and western Idaho, and ranged from central Idaho, northwestern Utah, central Nevada. Some are also located in California. The Idaho groups of Western Shoshone were called Tukuaduka (sheep eaters), while the Nevada/Utah bands were called the Gosiute or Toi Ticutta (cattail eaters). In California the Timbisha Shoshone (also known as the Death Valley or Panamint Shoshone) have lived for centuries in the Death Valley, Saline Valley, Panamint Valley and surrounding mountains. They have a federally recognized tribal reservation and government at Furnace Creek, California. Shoshone-Paiute have continued to live in the Owens Valley.

The most historically well-known member of the Shoshone tribe may be Sacagawea, of the Lemhi Shoshone band of Northern Shoshone. She accompanied the Corps of Discovery (Lewis and Clark Expedition) with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in their exploration of the Western United States.


They are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation’s many language dialects. The Sioux comprise three major divisions based on Siouan dialect and subculture:

  • Isáŋyathi or Isáŋathi (“Knife,” originating from the name of a lake in present-day Minnesota): residing in the extreme east of the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Iowa, and are often referred to as the Santee or Eastern Dakota.
  • Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (“Village-at-the-end” and “little village-at-the-end”): residing in the Minnesota River area, they are considered to be the middle Sioux, and are often referred to as the Yankton and the Yanktonai, or, collectively, as the Wičhíyena (endonym) or the Western Dakota (and have been erroneously classified as “Nakota”

Thítȟuŋwaŋ or Teton (uncertain, perhaps “Dwellers on the Prairie”; this name is archaic among the natives, who prefer to call themselves Lakȟóta): the westernmost Sioux, known for their hunting and warrior culture, are often referred to as the Lakota.

Today, the Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana in the United States; and Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan in Canada.

Tipai (Ipai)

These Indians lived in Southern California and in Northern Baja California. Their language was Hokan-Yuman. They lived in dome-shaped structure made from poles covered with either thatch, brush or palm leaves. They also lived in caves depending on the location and season. They ate acorns, cactus, clover, cherries, plumbs, berries, prickly pears and small games. The words Tipai and Ipai mean “people” in the Hokan-Yuman language. The Tipai tribe was made up of individual small groups each lead by clan chiefs. The shaman was an important member of each tribe, he led the tribe in the major yearly ceremony, and called the “Kaurk” that lasted from four to eight days. During this period gifts were exchanged and dead remembered. Women gathered seeds and grains while men hunted small game and deer with bows and arrows or by throwing sticks. The tribe made baskets and pottery used to gather food and storing it.

Tlingit  (also spelled Tlinkit)

They are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. They call themselves Lingít, meaning “People of the Tides”. The Russian name Koloshi  (from an Alutiiq term for the labret) or the related German name Koulischen may be encountered in older historical literature, such as Shelikhov’s 1796 map of Russian America.

The Tlingit are a matrilineal society that developed a complex hunter-gatherer culture in the temperate rainforest of the southeast Alaska coast and the Alexander Archipelago. An inland subgroup, known as the Inland Tlingit, inhabits the far northwestern part of the province of British Columbia and the southern Yukon Territory in Canada.


They are an American Indian people now living primarily in Utah and Colorado. There are three Ute tribal reservations:

  •  Uintah-Ouray in northeastern Utah (3,500 members);
  • Southern Ute in Colorado (1,500 members);
  • Ute Mountain which primarily lies in Colorado, but extends to Utah and New Mexico (2,000 members).

The name of the state of Utah was derived from the name Ute. The word Ute means “land of the sun” in their language. Prior to the arrival of Mexican settlers, the Utes occupied significant portions of what are today eastern Utah, western Colorado, including the San Luis Valley, and parts of New Mexico and Wyoming.

The Utes were never a unified group within historic times; instead, they consisted of numerous nomadic bands that maintained close associations with other neighbouring groups. The 17 largest known groups were the Capote, Cumumba, Moache, Moanumts, Pah Vant, Parianuche, San Pitch, Sheberetch, Taviwach, Timanogots, Tumpanawach, Uinta, Uncompahgre, White River, Weeminuche, and Yamperika. Unlike many other tribal groups in this region, they have no tradition or evidence of historic migration to the areas now known as Colorado and Utah —ancestors of the Ute appear to have occupied this area for at least a thousand years. The last time the Ute ever migrated was in the year 1885.


These Indians lived in Northwestern California. Their language was Penutian-Wintun. They lived in cone-shaped houses with a pole framework covered with bark. They ate deer, small game, bear, salmon, trout, acorns, seeds, nuts and berries. Each village was led by a chief, a privilege passed from father to son. The shaman, who was also a religious leader, was also important. He was chosen and taught by an older shaman. The shaman led the tribe in worshipping their main god, “the One who is above”. In addition the tribe prayed and talked to the Sun every morning. In his role as medicine man the shaman cured the sick by sucking out the disease. They believed that the dead Wintu went to the sky and walked the Milky Way. The men worked together to bring the necessary food and the tribe made baskets and sifters to make the floor and to store the grain and berries.


These Indians lived in California in the San Joaquin Valley and the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Their language was Penutian. In the south they lived in single and 10-family elliptical structures made of poles covered with tule. In the north they had similar single family structures with in the foothills they had cone-shaped huts with grass or bark thatch. They ate fish, wild fowl, seeds, pine nuts, berries, roots, deer and small game. This was a large tribe who, at one time, had in the order of 50,000 members. The main divisions of south, north and foothills were subdivided in many tribes –up to fifty- all of which had their own name, territory and their language was slightly different. Each tribe had a wealthy chief who helped the poor and entertained the guests. The shaman was a very important member who got his job through a dream or following a search for special power.

Yuki (Historical)

These Indians lived in California in the Upper Ell River valley. Their language was Hokan-Yuki (Yukian). They lived in cone-shaped bark-covered pole frame houses in the winter and brush covered in the summer. They ate acorns, fish, deer, seeds, nuts, berries, grasshoppers and bird eggs. The Yuki Indians received their name from the Wintun, Yuki in this language meant “enemies”. There were six groups of Yuki each divided in many tribes. Each small tribe consisted of several villages, each of which elected a chief as well as a war chief to be their leaders. The villages all had their shaman who cured by casting spells, and other doctors who used herbs and medicines to cure diseases. Their main god was named “Taikomol” (“He Who Walks Alone”). The Yuki ceremonial centred around the various stages of development into adulthood.


These Indians lived in Northwest California’s Pacific Coast and Lower Klamath River. Their language was Algonquian-Yurok. Their houses were redwood plank structures with gabled roofs. They ate salmon, acorns, fish, shellfish, sea lions, elk, deer, small game and seeds. A small minority of men belonged to an upper class called “peyerk” which means “real men”. They were trained to lead the tribe. They had a special way of talking and lived higher in the hill that the other members of the tribe. The Yurok believed in a Supreme Being called Wohpekumeu. They had many dances and religious ceremonies. The tribe doctors were women who cured people by praying for them and by listening to the sick persons confessing what they had done wrong. They were a peaceful tribe that lived from fishing, gathering food and occasional hunting. Their redwood canoes could be used in fast flowing river and in the Pacific Ocean.

Zuni (also spelled Zuñi by the Spanish and in early 20th century ethnological texts) or A:shiwi (as the Zuni refer to themselves in their own language)

They are a federally recognized Native American tribe, one of the Pueblo peoples. Most live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River, a tributary of the Little Colorado River, in western New Mexico. In addition to the reservation, the tribe owns trust lands in Catron County, New Mexico and Apache County, Arizona.

The Zuni, like other Pueblo peoples, are believed to be the descendants of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples who lived for centuries in the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and southern Colorado. Archaeological evidence shows they have lived in their present location for about 1300 years.

In 1539, a Spanish exploratory party guided by the Moorish slave Estevanico arrived. The Zuni eventually killed him. This was Spain’s first contact with any of the Pueblo peoples. Before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Zuni lived in six different villages. After the revolt, until 1692, they took refuge in a defensible position atop Dowa Yalanne, a steep mesa 5 km southeast of the present Pueblo of Zuni; Dowa means “corn”, and yalanne means “mountain.” After the establishment of peace and the return of the Spanish, the Zuni relocated to their present location, only briefly returning to the mesa top in 1703.

A controversy during the early 2000s was associated with Zuni opposition to the development of a coal mine near the Zuni Salt Lake, a site considered sacred by the Zuni and under Zuni control. The mine would have extracted water from the aquifer below the lake and would also have involved construction between the lake and the Zuni. The plan died in 2003 after several lawsuits.