*** ethnic clothing and costume: North American Native American tribes

North American Native American Tribes

Native Americans
Figure 1.--.

We do not yet have a great deal of information on individual tribes, but our list of tribes is gradually expanding. We will list the various tribes we have information on alphabetically. The Iriquois Confederation was the most important Native American group the early European colonists encountered. The story of the Cherokee is probably the most tragic. The Cheyene dominated the Great Plains. The Navajo were the most important tibe in the Southwest. The Apache proved the most difficult to pacify. The Piute were an importan tribal group in the Great Basin and would be primarily included in the Califotrnia cultural area. The Sioux were especuially important on the northern plains. Another important Plains tribe was the Cheyenne. The Aleuts inhabited the Aleutian Islands separating the North Pacific and Bearing Sea. The Yuman were an important Southwestern language group. We group these tribes by cultural areas, but here an alphabetical listing makes them easier to find. And notice that this is a North American list, not just a United States list. Thus we will inclue Canadian and northern Mexican tribes. (Southern and central Mexican tribes seem more associated with Central America.)


The Aleuts are the people of the Aleutian Islands and western Alaska who survived as maritime hunters. The Aleutians extend for about 1,800 kilometers (km) southwestward from the Alaskan mainland toward Russian Siberia. They separate the North Pacific from the Bering Sea, one of the roughest bodies of water in the world. These Islands are what is left of the land bridge which once connected Siberia and Alaska and which waves of migration from Siberia populated North and evenntually South America. The Aleuts are presumably descended from the last wave of migration, but I have little information about this. The Aleuts were the people encontered by Danish explorer in the service of the Russian Vitus Bering (1681-1741) in his voyage of discovery, from which he did not survive. The Russians proceeded to colonize Alaska. The Russians were attracted by furs, especially the luxurious sea otter pelts. It was the Russians who provided the name "Aleuts", the original Russian meaning is now unknown. They called themselves Unangan, meaning "the people" in their language. The Aleuts are racially and ethnically related to the Eskimo, but have a destinctive language and culture. The encounter with Bering and the Russians (1741) was the Aleuts first contact with Europeans. The Aleuts lived in widely scattered villages a survived by hunting marine mammals and fishing. The population at the time Bering encountered them has been various estimted at 12,000 to 25,000. Their houses were semisubterranean, designed to withstand the severe weather of the North Pacific and Bering Sea. There class system included both nobles and slaves and had a system of bilateral descent. Shamans or priest, medicinemen were important in hunting rituals as well as social taboos and medicine. The Aleutians are extremely baren. wind-swept islands. Intensive agriculture is not possible. The Aleuts thus turned to the sea. They primarily went after sea otters, sealions, seals, whales, and fish using skin-covered boats. Land resources imcluded birds, eggs, and a variety of plants. It was the fur trade that attracted the Russians who by 1750 had set up trading posts. Sea otters have the most luxurious pelts in the animal kingdom. Other valuable pelts were available, including fur seals, and foxes. The Russians essentially enslaved the Aleuts to hunt for them. The Aleuts were decimated by the Russians who treated them severely and by the European diseases they introduced. The Russians sold Alaska including the leutian Islnds to the United States (1867). By this time the populations of sea otters and fur seals had been badly depleted. There are today about 8,000 Aleuts in Alaska.


The Apache are perhaps the best known American Native American tribe. This is not because they were the largest are most important. Tt probably reflects their war-like nature and the fact they were the last tribe the Calvalry succeeded in pacifying. Their dramatic resistance at atime in which other tribes had been driven into reservations made them dramatic subjects for both books and movie depictions. Their charasmatic leader, Geronimo, was aother factor. The Apache proved the most difficult to pacify.


The Bannock are a realtively small tribe closely asociated with the Northern Paiute. Both are tribes of the Plateau or Great Basin cultural area. Thet inhabited wgat is now southeastern Oregon, southeastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and southwestern Montana. They traded and lived in small bands, generally peacefully with other Numic-speaking tribes such as the Shoshone in the area. Like other tribes in the Plains and Plateau area, their culture change fundamentally with the acquisitin of horses (mid-18th century). They traded extensively with the Nez Perce. Horses were a particularly valuable part of that trade. They made some pottery, but basket work was more important. They also nade utensils from mountain sheep horns as well as carrying bags from salmon skin. With the introduction of glass beads as trade goods, they transferred their traditional geometric design to beadwork. They made tule reed rafts to cross rivers. The economy ficused heacvily on seasonal activities, fishing for salmon on the Snake River in Idaho and in the fall with the acquisition of horses they hunted buffalo. Buffalo hides were used fot tipis and clothing. The Bannock War was their last attempt to resist American encroachment (1878). The Bannock were firibly moved onto the Fort Hall Indian Reservation with the Northern Shoshone. There was substantial shared cultural traditions. They had separate, but related languages. Gradually the tribes merged and are today known as the Shoshone-Bannock.


The story of the Cherokee, along with thge other Five Civilized Tribes, is is one if the most tragic of all the Native American peoples in the United States.


The Cheyenne people originsated east of the Mississippi in the wooded head waters of the Mississppi. The French explorer La Salle is the first European to mention thecCheyenne which he called Chaa--his spelling of the Sioux name for the Cheyenne (1680). He encountered them in what is now Illinois. They lived in permanent villages and engaged in agriculture. They began moving west and southwest, pushed by the tribes beung driven west by the English settlers. Eventually the Cheyenne moved into the Great Plains east of the Rockey Mountains. They are one of the most widely known of the Plains tribes. The Cheyenne Nation comprised ten bands, spread over the Great Plains, from southern Colorado to the Black Hills in South Dakota. The Sioux in the mid-19th century began to divide. Some bands remained near the Black Hills, while others tended to keep close to Platte River of central Colorado. In this process they split into two groups, the northern and southern Sioux. Their easterly origins is conformed by their languge. The Cheyenne speak a dialect belongs to the Algonquin language family. The alphabet consists of only fourteen letters. As the Cheyenne moved west on to the Plains, their culture changed from a settle agricultural existence to a more nomadic hunting society. The men capture wild horses which descended from animals that escaped from the Spanish. This helped them hunt buffalo. They also traped beaver. An important custom shared with orther Algonquin people was the smoking of the peace pipe. There was a some very carefully followed process involving the smoking of the pipe. A prayer was offered before the pipe was lit. Braves often had their own way to smoke the pipe. Another important Cheyenne tradition was story telling.


The Choctaw for several centuries were agriculturists inhabiting what is now the southeastern United States. They were part of the Muskogean linguistic family. Linguistic studies were a major ways of tracing tribal relations. Thus the Chioctaw werecknown to be related to the extensive mound-building, maize-based society that dominated the Mississippi River Valley for over a milenium before he arrival of the Europeans. The Choctaw's first encounter with Europeanswas the arrival of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his force of Ciquistadores (1540). Thge result was a bloody fight. The area did not have much gold and thus was not an area of great kinterest tothe Europeans. European traders arrive (18th century). They were of great interest because of the trade goods they brought. Until the American Revolution, the Choctaw were not much affected by the Europeans. British policy was to keep the Colonists from moving west beyound the Appalachins. President Washington initiated a Nayive American policy of integrating Southeastern tribes into American culture. Many Choctaw began to adopt American ways. Many intermarried, converted to Christianity, and adopted a range of 'white' customs. Thus the Choctaw were one of the Five Civilized Tribes (Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole). The Choctaw signed a series of treaties with the United States. The first was the Treaty of Hopewell (1786), only a few years after the Revolution. The Treaty set boundaries and established a 'universal' peace between the two nations. The Chocktaw as the rest of the Southeast was powerfully affected by Eli Witney's invention of the cotton gin (1793) and the Louisian Purchase (1803). Whitney's cotton gin This provided a way of separating the seeds from the cotton and meant that cotton could be profitably grown. It also radically changed the value of agricultural land in the Southeast. The Louisiana Purchase enab;ed the United States to acquire huge areas beyond the Mississippi River. Subsequent treaties after Hopewell redefined the borders of the Choctaw lands as settlers poured over the Appalachins into the Southeastern United States. The settlers thus seized millions of acres of Choctaw land. The United States finally seized the last of the Tribe's ancestral territory and forced the Choctaw to relocate to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi (1830). The Choctaw people were cthe were the first of the tribes thst had to make the trek now known as the Trail of Tears. About 2,500 Chocktaws, including many children and elderly perished along the trail. When they arrived in the Indian Terrirory some of the first things they did was to build a school and a church. They then drafted a brand new constitution. A decade later when the Potato Famine strick Ireland, the Choctaws sent money collected in the churches to aid the suffering Irish. The Choktaw during World war I helped pioneer the Code Talkers during the fighting against the Germans in France. The Chocktaw today number about 200,000 membes, the third largest United States tribe.


The Comanche began their modern history as a small tribal group living along the northern boundary of the Spanish Mexican colony They lived along the northern border of the current American state of New Mexico. This was an area with few Spanish settlers and only loosely controlled by the Doanish. They had been driven into this desolate, poorly watered area by warfare on the Great Plains among the various tribes vying for control of the most productive areas. Even here they faced competition from the Apache. From modest beginings the Comnanche forged perhaps the largest empire of any North American tribal group. Comanche lands would come to include much of the American southwest, southern Plains, and northern Mexico. This was a vast area, larger in fact than the European controlled lands of North America (north of the Rio Grande) The Comanche were the most sucessful tribe at oposing European encrochments. The Comanche were empire builders that included slavery in their trade-based economic system. Those authors who promote the uncritical view of native Americans as victims should study the Comanche for a more nuance perspective. The Comanche sought to spread their language and culture across the vast region they controlled. The Comanche power only peaked after the Mexican-American War. Unlike the Spanish and Mexicans, American control of the Southwest brought large numbers of settlers and the rapid undermining of Comanche power. The Comanche were superb horsemen, but could not compete with the Americans following the development of the revolver and repeating rifle. The Civil War resulted in a temporary respite, but after the War, the Comanche and 20 other Plains tribes were defeated and forced on to reservations. For the Comanche, defeat came in the canyonlands of the Texas Panhandle. [Hämäläinen]



The Crow called themselves the Apsaalooke. As it means "children of the large-beaked bird." White thus began calling them Crows and gradually the Tribe itself began using the term. The Crow had a wide range on the northern Plains once like the other Plains' tribes, they acquired horses. At the time they were encountered by Louis and Clark they were located in what is now Montana and Wyoming. The Crow were ruled by a council of chiefs, who were chosen by clan leaders based on the war honors. The Crow became famous as warriors and also as scouts for the U.S. Army to fight their traditional nemies--the Sioux. The Crow were moved to a reservation in Montana comprising a portion of their former territory (1868).


The Hopi at their peak inhabited virtually all of northern Arizona, including areas of southwestern California and southern Nevada. The Hopis have a reservation in Black Mesa, Arizona near the famed Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. The Hopi speak a Shoshonean language, which is one of the Uto-Aztecan languages branches of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock. An exception is the Hano Pueblo where the people speak a language which belongs to the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock. The Hopi or Moki/Moqui are one of the principal Pueblo tribal groups. The Hopi were a pre-literate people. Researchers have been avle to develop some basic history of the Hopu through archeology, anthropology, and linguistic studies. DNA studies may be avle to tell us more. The written record, however, only begins with the European discovery and exploration of the America. Within only decades of Columbus' voyages, Spanish Conquistadores reached the Hopi nd other Pueblo peoples (1540). The Hopi began involved in a fight for their existence with both the Spanish and Navho. Theur response was to move into more remote areas and build better protected pueblos. Spanish missionaries built missions, but they were destroyed in the Hopi Revolt. The remote inhospital lands and the small Spanish population was their best protection. The same was true after Mexican independence. The expanding United States reached the the Hopi after the Civil War. American authorities moved the Hopi on to the Black Nesa Reservation. The Hopi are best known for their agricultural skills. To achieve high levels of agricultural production they used methods like terracing and varius types of irrigation. Corn was the primary crop. They also raised cotton, beans, squash, and tobacco. This thriving agricultural economy was a phenomenal technological achievement in the middle of the Arizona desert. Since the coming of the Spanish, sheep ranching has become important. A further social impact as the villages grew was that clans began to form with land ties. Hopi villages were divided into the clans and governed by a chief, who was a political and spiritual leader. Clans became very important in Hopi society. Both political and religious duties revolved around the clans. Each clan became responsible for specific fields in the valleys (arroyos) below the mesas. Hopi society was organize on matrilineal lines. All important field inheritance and social status was thus passed through the mothers. It was the men who worked the fields.


The Hualapai (Walapa) are a small tribe which is part of Yuman language family. This is a relatedcgroup of tribes who pursued lives along or near the Coloradoo River. The Yuman tribes shares a common creation myth which centered on Spirit Mountain/Wikahme located along the Colorado River near what is now Bullhead City, Arizona. The Hualapai descendened from a group archeologists call the Cerbat. The Hualapaisee themselves as part of a larger cultural group known as the Pai--the people. Archeologists have found evidence ofthe Pai to the north arond Hoover Dam which date the cultural group to about 600 AD. The Hualapai in their relatively isolated mountain homeland had very little contact with Europeans until after the Mexican War briought them into the United States. After the Civil War, Americans began to increasingly move Wet, including the Southwest. Conflicts with settlers led to the Hualapai War (1865-70). It is believed that as many as one-third of the Hualapai perished in the War, not only in the fishing but as a result of epedemics. The Hualapai (Walapa) continue to live in the mountaneous area of northwestern Arizona. Hualapai means People of the Tall or Ponderosa Pines. The Hualapai are organized in seven bands. Each band was made up of a number of extended family groups who lived in small villages. The tribal reservation was created by Presidential executive order over a decade after the Hualapai War (1883). It consists of nearly 1-million acres along 108 miles of the Grand Canyon National Park in Coconino, Yavapai, and Mohave counties. The South and North Rim of Grand Canyon are part of the national park. Grand Canyon West is not part of Park, but locatedv on Hualapai Reservation. The Reservation terraine is quite varied, inclusing rolling grassland, forest, and rugged canyons. Their are peaks on the reservation over 7,300 feet--Aubrey Cliffs, which are located on the eastern portion of the reservation. The population on the reservation is about 1,600 people, avout 1,400 are tribal members. [2000 U.S. Census] Quite a number of tribal members live off the reservation. The total tribal membership is about 2,300 people. The tribal capital on the reservation is located at Peach Springs.


The Inuit people are a Native American group of culturally similar peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and the United States. Traditional Inuit culture like that of the other Arctic people is strongly influenced by the severe climate and stark Arctic landscapes. Unuit fokelore feature stories inspired by the aurora. Snow and ice and the cold in general have shaped inuit life, including igloos made from compacted snow. Inuit invented tools using the bones and tusks if the marine mammals they hunt. Unlike virtually all the rest of man knd, the Inuit once survived without eating plants and cereal crops. They did not grow in the Arctic. Their diet consisted almost entirely meat and fat. The Inuit fished and hunted Whales, walruses and seals. Traditional Inuit clothing was made from skins and fur of the animals they hunted. Boots were also made from animal skins. Their most destinctive garment was a large, thick coat with big protective known as parkas. The oarka has been adopted by people allover the wirld, although made in otherv materals. ” were worn as an outer layer. Today the parka style of coat is worn in other places in the world and it is made of many other materials. Inuit is the plural noun; the singular noun is Inuk. The Inuit languages are part of the Eskimo-Aleut family. Americans tend to use 'Eskimo' to describe the Native American people in the Arctic.


The Iriquois Confederation was the most important Native American group of the Eastern Woodland cultural area. The Iroquois Nation (Six Nations Confederacy or the Haudenosaunee Confederacy) was the most highly organized and dominated a huge area. The best known tribe of the Iriquois is the Mohawk, keepers of the Eastern Door. They were initally a formed as a five nations confederatiion, with a sixth joining subsequently. A HBC reader was impressed with the Iriquois forrst management system. The Confederation mean that they recognized each other's territory and did not fight each other. The term 'Iroquois' was a linguistic terrm. While deach of the memberr nations all spoke a rekated language, each member nation spoke a disrtinctive language. Language before the development of DNA technology was a major method of studing tribal connections. Each member nation continued to control their own domestic and internal affairs. The council of the Iroquois Confederacy was responsible for matters that affectedv the member the nations as a whole. This included war with neighborin tribes. Most educated Americams have read Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans. This desribed how the Iriquois (primarily the Mowhawk) decimated the Mohican nation. This is the kind of intra-tribal conflict thatbhad marked Native American life for millenia before the Europeans arrived. The Iriquoi were the most powerful Native American group that the early English and French colonists encountered. Most of the Easten Woodland tribes were anililated by the European colonists and their diseases to which Native Americans had no immunity. As this happened primarily before the 19th century invention of photography, there is no photographic record of these tribes when they were still powerful groups. Congress Passed the Indian Removal Act (1830) which ordered most of the the Native American survivoirs removed west of the Mississippi. The Mowhawk Sr. Regis Reservation was one of the few survivors. We are not sure why this was, but may be because the Reservation was created by the state of New York rather than the Federal Government. We note a Mohawk boy faith healer in the 1920s--Abram George.


The Mohawks called themselves the Kanien'kehake, meaning people of the flint. They saw themselves as the 'keeper of the eastern door'. They were one of the Eastern Woodlands peole and one of the five founding Nations of the Iroquois League or Confederacy. As is so often the case, the tribal name was created by their enemies, Algonquins and meant 'man eaters'--presumably referring to their fierce warrior tradition. It was subsequently adopted by the Europeans who had difficulty pronouncing Kanien'kehake. The other founding Confederacy tribes were the Cayuga, the Seneca, the Oneida, and the Onondaga. The sixth tribe to join was the Tuscarora. The Mowhawjks are best known today as an inspiratuinfor a hair style. Theyebdabegea (Joseph Brant) was a Mohawk leader who sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. The victory of the Americamns meant the beginning of the end for the Mowhawks. They originally inhabited what is now New York state, but after the Revolutionrt War mostly moved to the north into Cnada. James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 novel, The Last of the Mohicans describes a warrir from a people conquered by the Mohawk, but is an elegant description of the life of the Eastern woodland tribes and their dealings with each other and the the Europeans. Lacrosse was a popular sport among Mohawk boys as it was young adults. Women had important status more so than in European society. The men did the hunting for food, trading, and waged war. Women did the farming, hrld the property, and maintaoned the family. Mohawk clans (dfamily groups) were ruled by the women who made decisions about land and resource allocation. Mohawk chiefs, always men, made the military decisions and negotiated trade agreements. Men represented the Mohawks at the Iroquois Great Council, but it was the women who voted to select the Mohawk representatives. Both genders partocipated took part in storytelling, artwork and music, as well as healing.


The Navajo were the most important Narive American tribe in the Southwest. Thery are grouped as part of the Apachean peoples. The Navaho refer to themselves as the Dine--the People. As with all Native American tribes there is no early written history. As a result scholars using the archeological evidence disagree as to just when the Navajo reached the Southwest. The predominant assessment at this time is that the Navajos migrated south from Canada along with other Apachean peoples. A common bond is linquistics--Athapaskan languages. Before the development of DNA, linguistics was a principal tool in Narive American studies. Scholars speculate that the northern groups and those emarking on southern migrations separated (about 1000 AD). There is no reference to a northern origin or a long southern migration in the Navajo oral tradition, but rather a belief in travels through the underworld before emerging in the Southwest--specifically the La Plata Mountain of southwestern Colorado. Some believe that the Navajo displaced the Anasazi in the Four Corners area (14th century). Navajo lore has been accounts of interactions between the Navajo and Anasazi, so we know that the two groups encountered earch other. There is general agreement that the Navajo were well established in the Four Corners (15th century). The division between the Apache and Navajo seems to have occurred after they reached the Southwest. The Apache and Navajo are beliedved to have separated in fairly modern times (16th-17th century).

Nez Perce

The Nez Perce were an important tribe in the Plateau/Great Basin area. They lived in scattered villages. At the time Lewis and Clarke encountered them, they numbered about 4,000 number (1805). They were talented horsemen and amassed the largest horse herd on the continent. They seasonally fished for salmon along the Clearwater and Snake rivers and hunted buffalo. They also used camas plants and other bulbs found in mountain meadows to make bread. Like the Shoshone, another plateau people, the Nez Perce lacked guns or ammunition. This left them at a disadvantage vulnerable to their northern enemies, who were obtaining firearms from Canadian traders. In oarticular it threatened their ability to hunt buffalo. The Nez Perce would annually make a challenging passage over the Bitterroot Mountains to hunt buffalo on the plains. Nez Perce clothing was similar to other Plateau people. Men wore breechcloths with leather leggings and buckskin shirts. The women wore long deerskin dresses. Both men and women wore moccasins. Women dresses were fringed as were a warrior's shirt. Decoration included beadwork, shells, and painted designs. After contact with Americans, they began wearing cloth dresses and vests, which they often decorated with beading and other traditional ornaments. The most famous Nez Perce leader was Chief Joseph. Attempting to renain indepndent, he and hus warriors fought 13 battles with the U.S. calvalry and treeked 1,600 miles in an effort to reach Canada. He finally surrendered after the Battle of Bear Paw Mountains. It was the last important battle between Native Americans and the U.S. Calvalry. It was here where Chief Joseph made his famous statement “From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”


The Paiute/Piute were an importan tribal group in the Great Basin and would be primarily included in the Southwestern cultural area rather than the California area, although their range included eastern California. The Paiute are often divided into two related groups, the Northern and Southern Paiute. The Norrther Paiute lived in what is now California, Nevada and Oregon. The Southern Paiute were found in Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah. Both Paiute groups spoke languages (Northern Paiute and Ute-Southern Paiute) belonging to the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan family, but are not as closely related as with other Numic languages. The relationship between the Northern and Souther Paiute is primarily linguistic and cultural and not necesarily political or ethnic. Several small tribes (Bannock, Mono, Timbisha and Kawaiisu) are related to the Paiute and other associated tribes. The origin of the word Paiute is disputed. These were relativey small tribes. The Northern Paiute may have been no larger than 6,000 people. The Southern Paiute were the first to come into contact with Europeans, Spanish missionries (1776). They suffered from slave raids by the Navajo and Utes and the Spanish made matters worse. The Mormos ended the practice, but took control of water sources. The Northern Paiutes encountered Europans, mostly after the California Gold Rush. Bothe Paute groups suffered from exposure to European diseases. The Paiute War was a series of raids and ambushes initiated by the Paiute pressured by American encroachments (May-June 1860). One result was the creation of the Pony Express which had an effect on the development of the Pony Express.


The Qahatika or Kohatk were a small southwestern Native American tribe. They are often categorized as a subtribe of the Tohono O'Odham. Tghey were one of several small Sonoran Desert tribes in southwestern Arizona. They inhabited the area around modern Quijotoa, Arizona. This is anout 40 miles from the Pima near the Salt and Gila Rivers. They were noted for their handicraft skills, especially pottery. They were one of the many tribes photographed by Edward S. Curtis in the 1900s.


The name of this tribe was the Rarámuri--meaning 'men of light feet'. They were renounded for their running abilities, in part acquired from living at relatively high alditudes. Trafitional running games with balls and hoops are still practiced. There is archaelological evidence that the Rarámuri have lived in Chihuahua and the upper Sierra for more than 10,000 years. The Spanish called them the Tarahumara. They originally inhsabited a wide area of Chihuahua. To escape the depredations of the Spanish, especially slave raifing, the Rarámuri retreated into the Sierra Madre Occidental (16th century). The area is now called the Sierra Tarahumara Moutains (named after the tribe) of northern Mexico. This is part of the Sierra Madre. The Rarámuri are especially associated with the Copper Canyon area. Modern Rarámuri traditions are stronly influenced by the Catholic Christianity they learned from the Jesuits as part of missions life during the colonial life. The Jesuits expelled them (1776). They subsequently developed their own Christian traditions, mixing and weavig them with their own traditions.


The Sioux were especuially important on the northern plains. The Sioux, also called the Dakotas, were the most powerful tribe of the northern plains. Sioux life came to center on the bufalo after they were able to capture and tame wild horses. The Sioux followed the migrations of the bufalo. They lived in bufalo hide teepees which were highly portable, an important atribute on the Great Plains. They could be easily put up and taken down. The poles needed for tepes could be pulled by the Sioux horses.


The Tlingit are a Native American tribl hroup in the North Pacific cultural area. Their own name is Lingít, which is why the tribe is sometims spelled Tlinkit. The name means 'People of the Tides' describing their economic fondation, gathering shellfish in costal waters. The Tlingit people are a matrilineal society which pursued a complex hunter-gatherer culture in the temperate rainforest along the southeastern coast of what is now Alaska coast and the Alexander Archipelago. A warm current flowing north along the coast results in a relatively moderate climate along the coast for such a northerly location. There are several subtribes such as the Chikat. There is also is also the Inland Tlingit which moved away from the coast and developed a different life style. They inhabits the far northwestern part of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the southern Yukon Territory. The Tlingit language is complicated and rather difficult for English speakers to pronounce. It is now spoken mostly by elders. Tlingit people did not dress as earmly as most norther tribes. Men traditionally wore breech cloths and the women short skirts made of cedar bark. Villagers further inland who experienced colder weather dressed more warmly. Women wore longer deerskin dresses and men wore Athabaskan-style pants with sewn-on moccasins. Fardy Tlingit women might go barefoot even in the winter, in part because they stayed closer to home than the men. Men going on on winter hunting trips in the snow would wear snowshoes. The Tlingits traded with the other tribes of the Pcific Northwest, especially the Haida and Tsimshians. Tlingit Chilkat blankets, were especially prized, The Tlingits wanted shells for jewelry and the sturdy canoes made by the Haidas. The Northwest Pacific tribe at times traded pecefully and at other times raided other villages to take what they wanted and capture slaves.


The Yakama people inhabited the central Washington's plateau arond the Cascade Mountain Range to the Columbia River and beyond. The Yakama people when the weather turned cold retired to winter villages generally located along te Colombioa River valley floor where the winter weather was relatively mild and wood and water were available. When Spring began and the first edible greens appeared, the Yakama would begin moving out of the valleys and into the the countryside gthering food resources. The search varied. Some followed the melting snows ingo the uplands. Oters foused more on fishing. The salmon coming up the Columbia River was important economically to the Yakama. Game included deer and elk. The huckleberry harvest ws imoportant in the fall. Food would be either stored or transported back to the winter village from both the mountains and the rivers. There thy ould survive on stored food and occasional game kills. The modern Yakama are a composit group formed from many smll related tribes and bands in the Columbia Basin Plateau, including the Yakama, Kah-miltpah, Klickitat, Klinquit, Kow way, Li ay was, Oche Chotes, Palouse, Pisquose, ShyikSk'in-pah, Wenatchapam, Wish ham, and others. There were 14 of these tribes and bands that signed the Treaty of 1855 near what is now Walla Walla, Washington. They were at that time confederated into the Yakama Indian Nation.


Yuman Tribes Indian are an important linguistic family related to the Hokan-Siouan lingistic group. The Yuman tribes were found a large area in the extreme southwest portion of what is now the United States (primarily far southern California and western Arizona) as well as northern Lower California or Mexico's Baja Peninsula. This area included great deal of the Colorado River valley. The Colorado is of course the major river system in the southwestern United States. The Yuman also occupied the lower valley of the Gila. The warm climate climate ofvthis area favoured nudity, especially during the summer. The men wore the breechcloth while women were content with a short petticoat made of strips of bark. Traditionally the primary way that Native American tribes have been grouped by ethnologists for study has been lingistics. Other shared cultural aspecs include origin mythologies, ceramic styles and technology, food items (acorns and pine nuts), gourds, songs and dances, keruk commemoration ceremonies, and coyote stories. DNA studies offers new scientific tools, but the lingistic groups are still the primary method of studying the tribes. Experts hve differed somewhat as to just which tribes fall into the Yuman grouping. The culture and social organization of the Yuman peoples was strongly affected by the environment. Generally speaking they were less advanced the Pueblo peoples and never adopted irrigation. This limited the agricultural productivity of the Yuman tribes and as a result their wealth and ability to develop a refined culture. Some of the Yuman tribes living in inhospitable areas were extremely primitive. This is reflected in cultural artifacts like pottery and clothing. The Yuman lingisistic group included quite a number of different tribes. Some of the major tribes of the northern Yuman area are the Cocopa, Diegueño, Havasupai, Maricopa, Mohave, Tonto, Walapai, Yavapa


A Native American HBC reader tells us, "In Canada, Native American Nations are referred to as Bands, in the States, they are often referred to as Tribes. Most Native people refer to their 'Band'or 'Tribe' as Nation these days." [George] Americans often use Bands to describe as sub-groups of tribes, such as the Cherakowa Apache. The Iriquois was a Confederacy as it was composed of tribes/nations. In HBC we tend to use the tribes because the English language definition of "nation" does not seem to fit tribal groups very well.


George, Chris. E-mail message, December 10, 2009. Chris is a teacher at the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Hämäläinen, Pekka. Comanche Empire.


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[Return to the Main ethnic page]
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Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Native American pages:
[Ethnic] [Dance]

Created: 11:35 PM 8/3/2006
Last updated: 9:45 PM 8/8/2023