Indian Nations are sovereign governments, recognized in and hundreds of treaties with the U. S. President. The history of this continent’s original inhabitants encompasses a broad range of cultures and experiences. American Indians varied greatly from region to region, as did their reactions to European settlement. This website will delve into the vast and storied background of most tribes and seek to supply the visitors with as much knowledge as possible about the proud history of Native Americans.
Please join us on this journey into the past, experience the present and dream about the future of the American Indian. When Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492 he was welcomed by a brown-skinned people whose physical appearance confirmed him in his opinion that he had at last reached India, and whom, therefore, he called Indios, Indians, a name which, however mistaken in its first application continued to hold its own, and has long since won general acceptance, except in strictly scientific writing, where the more exact term American is commonly used.
As exploration was extended north and south it was found that the same race was spread over the whole continent, from the Arctic shores to Cape Horn, everywhere alike in the main physical characteristics, with the exception of the Eskimo in the extreme North, whose features suggest the Mongolian. Tribes and Nations Native Americans (American Indians) make up less than one percent of the total U. S. population but represent half the languages and cultures in the nation.
The term “Native American” includes over 500 different groups and reflects great diversity of geographic location, language, socioeconomic conditions, school experience, and retention of traditional spiritual and cultural practices. However, most of the commercially prepared teaching materials available present a generalized image of Native American people with little or no regard for differences that exist from tribe to tribe. Mohawk (Iroquois):
The Iroquois League, or Five Nations of the Iroquois, was the most powerful Indian military alliance in the eastern part of North America and probably the most successful alliance of any kind between so many important tribes. There were three principal clans – deer, turtle and wolf – existing within the five nations, and this was probably an important unifying factor in the league. The league was formed in the late sixteenth century at which time the five nations had a combined population of 7000.
Mohican (Mohegan) and/or Mahican: What a confusion of facts. After reading through several texts and visiting many sites on the web, it has become clear as mud that everyone has a differing opinion about the relationships between these three tribes. We will therefore include them all on one page and maybe through your wanderings, you will discover the truth. If you do, please let us in on it. Creek: The Creek were originally one of the dominant tribes in the mid-south and later became known as one of the Five Civilized Tribes.
They were known in their own language as Muskoke or Muskoge, by the Shawnee as Humaskogi, by the Delaware as Masquachki and by the British as the Ochese Creek Indians, hence the present name. Their name has been adapted for that of their linguistic group and for Muskogee, Oklahoma, which was a major city of the Creek Nation in Indian Territory. Cherokee: The Cherokee were one of the largest tribes in the Southeast and were among the earliest to adapt to European civilization. Their name is written Tsalagi in their own language, and they were called Chalakki by the Choctaw, whose language was the language of trade in the Southeast.
Southwest Navajo (Dineh, Navaho): The Navajo tribe is the largest in the United States, with some 200,000 people occupying the largest and area reserved for Native Americans – 17 million acres in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The word Navajo derives from the Spanish word for ‘people with big fields. ‘ At the time of the arrival of the white man they had developed agriculture, though on a smaller scale than the nearby Hopi and Pueblo peoples. The Navajo were less sedentary than the Hopi and Pueblo tribes, but more so than the Apache of the same region. Zuni:
The Zuni, like the Hopi, were linguistically distinct from the Pueblo tribes but related to them culturally. The three groups, Zuni, Hopi and Pueblo, had several important characteristics in common. First of all, they lived in pueblos (Spanish for village), which were a composite of adobe houses, frequently interconnected and occasionally multistoried, much like a modern apartment complex. While each Pueblo tribe was associated with a single pueblo, the Hopi and Zuni were each associated with several, and not all members of these tribes lived in pueblos.
Hopi: The Hopi, whose name comes from hopitu meaning ‘the peaceful ones,’ are traditionally associated culturally with the Zuni and with eht Pueblo Indians. All of these people live in pueblos or cities comprised of a complex of sometimes jultistoried, rectangular houses. The name pueblo drives from the Spanish word for ‘people’. The Hopi are descendants of people who migrated into the Southwest prior to 1000 BC. By 700 AD they had developed agriculture and were raising corn, beans, squash and cotton.
By 1100 AD they had abandoned their aboriginal pit housed for multi-level adobe houses, and had founded cities at Oraibi and Mesa Verde. Yavapai: From prehistoric times, the Yavapai lived as hunters and gatherers practicing occasional agriculture on over nine million acres of central and western Arizona. The three primary groups of Yavapai maintained good relationships with each other and are now located at Ft. McDowell, Camp Verde and Prescott. The Yavapai are known for weaving excellent baskets, which are displayed in many museums. Apache:
The Apache (from a Zuni word meaning “enemy”) are a North American Indian people of the Southwest. Their name for themselves is Inde, or Nde (“the people”). The major nomadic tribe in the American Southwest, the Apache, was also the Last major tribe to surrender to government control in the 1880s Plains Kiowa: The Kiowa name is derived from kai-gwa, meaning ‘principal people,’ and legend has it that they originated in the Yellowstone River country of central Montana. In the eighteenth century, having obtained horses, they moved onto the plains to hunt buffalo.
During this time they made alliances with both the Kiowa-Apache as well as their former enemies, the Comanche. This latter association was the basis for the Kiowa-Comanche Reservation formed in Indian Territory in 1892. The Kiowa are noted for having kept a written history. This historical record was kept in the form of a pictographic calendar painted and updated twice a year, in winter and summer, on buffalo skins. Pawnee (Pani, Pana, Panana, Panamaha, Panimaha): The Pawnee name may have derived from Caddoan pariki, meaning ‘horn,’ a reference to the peculiar manner inwhich the tribe wore the scalplock.
The Paunee lived in established villages similar to those of the Mandan. They practiced agriculture but also hunted buffalo on the plains part of the year. They had a complex religion unrelated to other Plains tribes that included offering female captives as a sacrifice to ensure abundant crops. Comanche: The Comanche are an offshoot of the Shoshone and one of several numanic speaking tribes. They are linguistically related to the Shoshone, Ute and Paiute, whose language is remotely related to Aztec.
Their name comes from the Spanish camino ancho, which means “wide trail. ” They once lived in the Rocky Mountains near the Shoshone, but migrated to the plains to hunt buffalo. Though they became nomadic Plains Indians, they still maintained good relations with the Shoshone. Osage (Wazhazhe): Closely related to the Omaha, Kansa, Quopaw and Ponca, the Osage are thought to have once lived in the Ohio River valley, but they were first encountered by the white man in Missouri, where they were recorded as having large cornfields.
They usually lived in earth lodges, but when on hunting trips to the northern plains in search of buffalo, they carried and used the plains tipi. Great Lakes Miami (Maumee, Twightwee): The Miami, whose name comes from the Chippewa omaumeg, or ‘people who live on the peninsula,’ first came into contact with white men in 1658 near Green Bay, Wisonsin, but they soon withdrew to the headwaters of the Fox River and later to the headwaters of the Wabash and Maumee rivers. The Miami had good relations with the French, with whom they were allied.
They were also closely associated with the Piankashaw, who were once thought to be part of the Miami tribe. Huron (Wyandot): The name Wyandot (or Wendat) is Iroquoian for ‘people of the peninsula,’ a reference to a peninsula in sourthern Ontario eas of Lake Huron where they originally lived. Their population was estimated at 20,000 in 1615 when first encountered by the French under Samuel de Champlain, who referred to them as Huron (‘bristly-headed ruffian’). The first Wyandot groups inthe region probably arrived in the early fourteenth century.
In addition to maize, the Wyandot raised beans, squash, sunflowers and tobacco. Ottawa: The name Ottawa is derived from the Algonquian adawe, meaning ‘to trade,’ an apt name for the tribe, who had an active trading relationship with the related Chippewa and Potawatomi as well as other tribes of the region. Like the Chippewa, they built birch bark canoes and harvested wild rice. Ottawa Chief Pontiac rose by 1755 as one of the most important Indian leaders of the era. Ojibwa (Chippewa):
To end any confusion, the Ojibwa and Chippewa are not only the same tribe, but the same word pronounced a little differently due to accent. If an “O” is placed in front of Chippewa (O’chippewa), the relationship becomes apparent. Ojibwa is used in Canada, although Ojibwa west of Lake Winnipeg are sometime referred to as the Saulteaux. In United States, Chippewa was used in all treaties and is the official name. The Chippewas were the largest and most powerful tribe in the Great Lakes country, with a range that extended from the edge of Iroquois territory in the Northeast to the Sioux-dominated Great Plains.
Both of these major tribes were traditional Chippewa rivals, but neither was powerful enough to threaten the Chippewa heartland, where the Chippewa was master. The tribe used the lakes and rivers of the region like a vast highway network, and developed the birch bark canoe into one of the continent’s major means of transportation. Northwest Nez Perce: Nez Perce is a misnomer given by the interpreter of the Lewis and Clark expedition team of 1805. The French translate it as “pierced nose.
” This is untrue as the Nee-me-poo did not practice nose piercing or wearing ornaments. The “pierced nose” people lived on the lower Columbia River and throughout other parts of the Northwest. The famous indian chief and leader, Chief Joseph, was of the Nez Perce. Flathead (Salish): The Flathead, a subgroups of the Spokane tribes, were given their name from a custom common to many Salishan people of practicing head deformation by strapping their infants to hard cradleboards. This flattened the back of the head and made the top appear more round.
The Flathead, conversely, did not practice head flattening, and therefore the tops of their heads were flatter than those of the other Salishan people, hence the name. Blackfoot (Siksika): The Blackfoot are one of the several numanic-speaking tribes, and were historically allied with the nomadic Atsina. Ther were the archetypal Plains Indians, for whom the buffalo provided nearly all their needs, from food to clothing to leather for their tipis. Shoshone (Shoshoni): The Shoshone were the most wide-ranging of the Great Basin tribes, with a habitat that stretched from the eastern Oregon desert to southern Colorado.
They were closely related to the Bannock, Gosiute, Paiute and Ute, with whom they shared these lands and with shown there was a good deal of intermarriage. Kwakiutl: The Kwakiutl were one of the major tribes of the Northwest Coast and once encompassed other nearby tribes such as the Bella Bella, Kitimat, Makah and Nootka, with whom they are linguistically related. Their villages were typical of the Northwest Coast, with large cedar plank houses and intricately carved totem poles, representing the animals with whom a particular family might be religiously associated.
Works Cited “Rebuilding Native American Communities” by Don Coyhis & Richard Simonelli, Child Welfare, Mar/Apr 2005 (15 pages). “Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change” by Andrea Smith, Feminist Studies, Spring 2005 (17 pages). “The Paradox of Native American Indian Intellectualism and Literature” by Kathryn Winona Shanley, MELUS, Fall/Winter 2004 (20 pages). “American Indian History as Continuing Story” by Peter Iverson, Historian, Fall 2004 (8 pages). “Anti-colonial Strategies for the Recovery and Maintenance of Indigenous Knowledge” by Leanne R.
Simpson, American Indian Quarterly, Summer/Fall 2004 (12 pages). “Sovereignty: The Rhetoric v. The Reality” by Paul Boyer, Tribal College Journal, Fall 2004 (4 pages). “Developing an Effective Approach to Strategic Planning for Native American Indian Reservations” by Nicholas Zaferatos, Space & Polity, April 2004 (18 pages). “Ethnogeography and the Native American Past” by James Carson Taylor, Ethnohistory, Fall 2002 (20 pages). “Indigenous Identity” by Hillary N. Weaver, American Indian Quarterly, Spring 2001 (16 pages)
“What We Want to be Called? ” by Michael Yellow Bird, American Indian Quarterly, Spring 1999 (21 pages) “Native American Population Pattern” by Mathew J. Shumway, Geographical Review, April 1995 (17 pages) . The North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment (Harry N. Abrams, 2003) Native American: A History in Pictures (DK Adult, 2000) Atlas of North American History (Checkmark Books, 2000) We Are Still Here: American Indians in the Twentieth Century (Harlan Davidson Inc. 1998)
The Native Americans: The Indigenous People of North America (Advanced Marketing Services, 1999) Through Indian Eyes: The Untold Story of Native American Peoples (Reader’s Digest Association, 1995) Dictionary of Native American Mythology by Gill, Sam D and Sullivan, Irene F (ABC-Clio, 1992) Exiled in the land of the free: Democracy, Indian nations, and the U. S. Constitution (Clear Light Publishers, 1991) The Native American Experience (Facts on File, 1991).
The great father: the United States government and the American Indians by Prucha, Francis Paul (University of Nebraska Press,1986) Voices of the Winds: Native American Legends by Edmonds, Margot and Clark, Ella Elizabeth (Facts on File, 1989) Atlas of the North American Indians by Waldman, Carl (Facts on File, 1984) Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (Hill & Wang, 1983) The Talking stone: An anthology of native American tales and legends (Greenwillow Books, New York, 1979) The Indians of the southeastern United States by Swanton, John Reed (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979)