Peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent.They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (the East Indies).

Most scholars agree that Native Americans came into the Western Hemisphere from Asia via the Bering Strait in a series of migrations. From Alaska they spread east and south. The several waves of migration are said to account for the many native linguistic families while the common origin is used to explain the physical characteristics that Native Americans have in common (though with considerable variation), Mongoloid features, coarse, straight black hair, dark eyes, sparse body hair, and a skin color ranging from yellow-brown to reddish brown.

Many scholars accept evidence of Native American existence in the Americas back more than 25,000 years. In pre-Columbian times (prior to 1492), the Native American population of the area N. of Mexico is estimated to have been between one and two million. From prehistoric times until recent historic times there were roughly six major cultural areas, excluding that of the Arctic, Northwest Coast, Plains, Plateau, Eastern Woodlands, Northern and Southwest.


Native American Languages


Pictographs and Ideographs


Languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants.

A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent. have become extinct, but many of them are still in use today.

The classification Native American languages is geographical rather than linguistic, since those languages do not belong to a single linguistic family, or stock, as the Indo-European or Hamito-Semitic languages do.

There is no part of the world with as many distinctly different native languages as the Western Hemisphere.

Because the number of indigenous American tongues is so large, it is convenient to discuss them under three geographical divisions: North America (excluding Mexico), Mexico and Central America, and South America and the West Indies.

It is not possible to determine exactly how many languages were spoken in the New World before the arrival of Europeans or how many people spoke these languages. Some scholars estimate that the Western Hemisphere at the time of the first European contact was inhabited by 40 million people who spoke 1,800 different tongues. Another widely accepted estimate suggests that at the time of Columbus more than 15 million speakers throughout the Western Hemisphere used more than 2,000 languages; the geographic divisions within that estimate are 300 separate tongues native to some 1.5 million Native Americans N. of Mexico, 300 different languages spoken by roughly 5 million people in Mexico and Central America, and more than 1,400 distinct tongues used by 9 million Native Americans in South America and the West Indies.

By the middle of the 20th cent., as a result of European conquest and settlement in the Western Hemisphere, perhaps two thirds of the many indigenous American languages had already died out or were dying out, but others flourished. Still other aboriginal languages are only now being discovered and investigated by researchers. Some authorities suggest that about one half of the Native American languages N. of Mexico have become extinct. Of the tongues still in use, more than half are spoken by fewer than 1,000 persons per language; most of the speakers are bilingual. Only a few tongues, like Navaho and Cherokee, can claim more than 50,000 speakers. Mexico and Central America, however, have large Native American populations employing a number of indigenous languages, such as Nahuatl (spoken by 800,000 people) and the Mayan tongues (native to more than a million people). In South America the surviving Quechuan linguistic family accounts for several million speakers. Another flourishing language stock of indigenous South Americans is Tup-Guaran.




The languages in America N. of Mexico are best known; those of Mexico and Central America are less so, and those of South America and the West Indies are the least studied.

Systematic investigation has shown the Native American languages to be highly developed in their phonology and grammar, whether they are the tongues of the Aztecs and Incas or the Eskimos or Paiutes.There is great diversity among the indigenous American languages with respect to phonology and grammar.

The tongue of the Greenland Eskimos, for example, has only 17 phonemes, whereas that of the Navahos has 47 phonemes.Some languages have nasalized vowels similar to those of French.

Many have the consonant known as the glottal stop. Some Native American languages have a stress accent reminiscent of English, and others have a pitch accent of rising and falling tones similar to that of Chinese.Still others have both stress and pitch accents.

A grammatical characteristic of widespread occurrence in Native American languages is polysynthesism. A polysynthetic language is one in which a number of word elements are joined together to form a composite word that functions as the sentence does in Indo-European languages. Thus, a sentence or phrase is expressed by one long word unit, each element of which has meaning usually only as part of the sentence or phrase and not as a separate item. In a polysynthetic language, no clear distinction is made between a word and a sentence. For example, a series of words expressing several connected ideas, such as I am searching for my lost horse, would be merged to form a single word or meaning unit.

Edward Sapir, a major scholar in the field of Native American languages, first presented the following, much-quoted word unit from Southern Paiute: wiitokuchumpunkurganiyugwivantm, meaning they (-who-are-going-to-sit-and-cut-up-with-a-knife-a-black-female- (or male-) buffalo). It is thought that the numerous aboriginal tongues showing polysynthesism may originally have been the offshoots of a single parent language. The existence of gender as found in Indo-European languages is encountered infrequently in indigenous American tongues.

In the Algonquian languages, nouns are classified as animate and inanimate.

Noun cases like those of Latin occur in some languages, but a lack of case distinction similar to English usage is more common (at least N. of Mexico).

A number of Native American tongues have a form for the plural of the noun that differs from the singular form, but many others have the same form for both, as in the English noun sheep.




A language family consists of two or more tongues that are distinct and yet related historically in that they are all descended from a single ancestor language, either known or assumed to have existed.

The languages of a family are closely related in phonetics, grammar, and vocabulary.

The attempts made to classify Native American languages into such families have encountered various obstacles.

One is the absence of written records of these languages except in the case of Aztec and Maya. Even there the texts are comparatively few in number; the Spanish conquerors destroyed almost all the texts they found.

Another problem is that most records of any linguistic value were made after 1850. Also, there are at present insufficient numbers of trained persons able to record many of the indigenous American languages and collect data, especially in Mexico and Central and South America.

The absence of grammars handed down from the past, owing to either the dearth of writing or the destruction of written texts, has further hampered the study of the Native American tongues.

Linguistic scholars, therefore, have to turn to native informants to gain material for the analysis of these languages.

Native American languages cannot be differentiated as a linguistic unit from other languages of the world but are grouped into a number of separate linguistic stocks having significantly different phonetics, vocabularies, and grammars. Asia is generally accepted as the original home of the Native Americans, although linguistic investigations have not yet established any definite link between the Native American languages and those spoken in Asia or elsewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Some scholars postulate a connection between the Eskimo-Aleut family and several other families or subfamilies (among them Altaic, Paleosiberian, Finno-Ugric, and Sino-Tibetan).

Others see a relationship between members of the Nadene stock (to which Navaho and Apache belong) and Sino-Tibetan, to which Chinese belongs; however, such theories remain unproved.


Influence and Survival


The Native American languages have contributed numerous place-names in the Western Hemisphere, especially in the United States, many of whose states have names of Native American origin.

The European languages that are official today in countries of the New World, such as English, Spanish, and Portuguese, have borrowed a number of words from aboriginal languages.

English, for example, has been enriched by such words as moccasin, moose, mukluk, raccoon, skunk, terrapin, tomahawk, totem, and wampum from indigenous North American languages; by chocolate, coyote, and tomato from indigenous Mexican tongues; by barbecue, cannibal, hurricane, maize, and potato from aboriginal languages of the West Indies; and by coca, condor, guano, jaguar, llama, maraca, pampa, puma, quinine, tapioca, and vicua from indigenous South American languages.

Some Native American languages, among them Navaho, Apache, and Cherokee, have been used for wartime communications by the U.S. military to evade enemy decipherment. Many Navaho participated in the American armed forces during World War II as the transmitters of vital messages in their native language.

The outlook for the future of the indigenous American languages is not good; most will probably die out. At present, the aboriginal languages of the Western Hemisphere are gradually being replaced by the Indo-European tongues of the European conquerors and settlers of the New World English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch.

The investigation of Native American languages contributes much to a scientific knowledge of language in general, since these tongues possess a number of linguistic features not otherwise known.

Some groups of native Americans in the United States are working to revitalize the languages of their peoples as a result of increased ethnic consciousness and feelings of cultural identity.


Sign Language


Gestural communication used as an alternative or replacement for speech.

Sign languages resemble oral languages in every way other than their modality. As with oral languages, sign languages are acquired spontaneously and have highly intricate, rule-governed grammar and phonology.

The three classes of features that make up individual signs are hand configuration, movement, and position to the body. Sign languages include those of Trappist monks, who have a rule of silence, and Plains Indians, where speakers of mutually unintelligible languages communicated freely. Australian aborigines and people of Sudan and the Sahara also have a complete sign language.

Many languages have conventionalized body gestures elaborated to accompany or supplement speech, e.g., the Neapolitan gesture language. The widely used manual language of the deaf, or language of signs, was first systematized in the 18th century by the French abb Charles Michel de l'pe. It was brought to the United States by T. H. Gallaudet. As with any sign language, only a small percentage of signs suggest the form of thought they represent.

Many dictionaries of signs have been compiled, including the American sign language developed for the deaf. Often the language of signs is taught along with lipreading and with a manual alphabet, i.e., a method of forming the letters of the alphabet by fixed positions of the fingers in the air. See W. C. Stokoe, Semiotics and Human Sign Languages (1972); Charlotte Baker and Robbin Battison, ed., Sign Language and the Deaf Community (1980); C. A. Padden, Interaction of Morphology and Syntax in American Sign Language (1988).


North American Natives Contemporary Life


In the 1890s the long struggle between the expanding European population and the Native American peoples that had begun soon after the coming of the Spanish in the 16th cent. and the British and the French in the 17th cent. was brought to an end.

Native American life in the United States in the 20th cent. has been marked by poverty, poor education, and unemployment.

The Native American population in the United States is some 1.5 million.

Information about particular groups can be found in separate articles and in separate biographies and subject articles (e.g., Pontiac's Rebellion; Dawes Act).


Dawes Act


1887, passed by the U.S.

Congress to provide for the granting of individual landholdings to Native Americans who would renounce their tribal holdings. Sponsored by H. L. Dawes while he was chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, the act sought to absorb Native Americans into the body politic of the nation.


Pontiac's Rebellion


1763-66, Native American uprising against the British just after the close of the French and Indian Wars, so called after one of its leaders, Pontiac.



1760-66, Ottawa chief


He may have been the chief met by Robert Rogers in 1760 when Rogers was on his way to take possession of the Western forts for the English.

Although the Native American uprising against the English colonists just after the French and Indian Wars is known as Pontiac's Rebellion or Pontiac's Conspiracy, Pontiac's role is uncertain. He definitely was present at the siege of Detroit, and encouraged other tribes to fight the British, but most of the actual fighting and strategy was probably planned independently by other Native American leaders.

After the rebellion had failed and a treaty had been concluded (1766), Pontiac is supposed to have gone west and to have been murdered by Illinois at Cahokia.

This story is, however, accepted by few authorities. See bibliography under Pontiac's picture.




The French attitude toward the Native Americans had always been more conciliatory than that of the English.

French Jesuit priests and French traders had maintained friendly and generous dealings with their Native American neighbors.

After conquering New France (Old Canada), the English aroused the resentment of the Western tribes by treating them arrogantly, refusing to supply them with free ammunition (as the French had done), building forts, and permitting white settlement on Native American-owned lands.


Course of the War


In April, 1763, a council was held by the Native Americans on the banks of the Ecorse River near Detroit; there an attack on the fort at Detroit was planned.

Pontiac's scheme was to gain admission to the garrison for himself and some of his chiefs by asking for a council with the commandant, but the Native Americans, who would be carrying weapons, were then to open a surprise attack.

Major Henry Gladwin, the commandant, was warned of the plot and foiled it. However, Pontiac and his Ottawas, reinforced by Wyandots, Potawatomis, and Ojibwas, stormed the fort on May 10.

The garrison was relieved by reinforcements and supplies from Niagara in the summer, but Pontiac continued to besiege it until November, when, disappointed at finding he could expect no help from the French, he retired to the Maumee River. Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania had been warned of the uprising by a messenger from Gladwin and withstood attack until relieved by Col. Henry Bouquet.

Bouquet and his forces, on their way to Fort Pitt in Aug., 1763, had been victorious in a severe engagement at Bushy Run.

Meanwhile, Pontiac's allies, the Delaware, Seneca, and Shawnee tribes, captured and destroyed many British outposts, among them Sandusky, Michilimackinac, and Presque Isle.

In an attempt by the British to surprise Pontiac's camp, the battle of Bloody Run was fought on July 31, 1763, with great loss to the British. The borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia were kept in a state of terror.

In the spring of 1764 an offensive campaign was planned by the English, and two armies were sent out, one into Ohio under Colonel Bouquet and the other to the Great Lakes under Col. John Bradstreet.

Bradstreet's attempts at treaties were condemned by Gen. Thomas Gage, who had succeeded Sir Jeffery Amherst as commander in chief, and Colonel Bradstreet returned home with little achievement.

Bouquet, by his campaign in Pennsylvania, brought the Delaware and the Shawnee to sue for peace, and a treaty was concluded with them by Sir William Johnson.

After failing to persuade some of the tribes farther west and south to join him in rebellion, Pontiac finally completed in 1766 a treaty with Johnson and was pardoned by the English.


The French and Indian Wars


1689-1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th centuries.

They were really campaigns in the worldwide struggle for empire and were roughly linked to wars of the European coalitions. At the time they were viewed in Europe as only an unimportant aspect of the struggle, and, although the stakes were Canada, the American West, and the West Indies, the fortunes of war in Europe had more effect in determining the winner than the fighting in the disputed territory itself.

To the settlers in America, however, the rivalry of the two powers was of immediate concern, for the fighting meant not only raids by the French or the British but also the horrors of tribal border warfare. The conflict may be looked on, from the American viewpoint, as a single war with interruptions. The ultimate aimdomination of the eastern part of the continentwas the same; and the methodscapture of the seaboard strongholds and the little Western forts and attacks on frontier settlementswere the same.

The wars helped to bring about important changes in the British colonies. In addition to the fact of their ocean-wide distance from the mother country, the colonies felt themselves less dependent militarily on the British by the end of the wars; they became most concerned with their own problems and put greater value on their own institutions. In other words, they began to think of themselves as American rather than British.

Rivalry for the West, particularly for the valley of the upper Ohio, prepared the way for another war.

In 1748 a group of Virginians interested in Western lands formed the Ohio Company and at the same time the French were investigating possibilities of occupying the upper Ohio region.

The French were first to act, moving S. from Canada and founding two forts.

Robert Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, sent an emissary, young George Washington, to protest.

The contest between the Ohio Company and the French was now joined and hinged on possession of the spot where the Monongahela and the Allegheny join to form the Ohio (the site of Pittsburgh).

The English started a fort there but were expelled by the French, who built Fort Duquesne in 1754.

Dinwiddie, after attempting to get aid from the other colonies, sent out an expedition under Washington.

He defeated a small force of French and Native Americans but had to withdraw and, building Fort Necessity, held his ground until forced to surrender (July, 1754).

The British colonies, alarmed by French activities at their back door, attempted to correlate their activities in the Albany Congress.

War had thus broken out before fighting began in Europe in the Seven Years War.

The American conflict, the last and by far the most important of the series, is usually called simply the French and Indian War.

The British undertook to capture the French forts in the Westnot only Duquesne, but also Fort Frontenac, Fort Niagara, and the posts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

They also set out to take Louisburg and the French cities on the St. Lawrence, Quebec and Montreal. They at first failed in their attempts.

The expedition led by Edward Braddock against Duquesne in 1755 was a costly fiasco, and the attempt by Admiral Boscawen to blockade Canada and the first expeditions against Niagara and Crown Point were fruitless.

After 1757, when the British ministry of the elder William Pitt was reconstituted, Pitt was able to supervise the war in America. Affairs then took a better turn for the British. Lord Amherst in 1758 took Louisburg, where James Wolfe distinguished himself.

That same year Gen. John Forbes took Fort Duquesne (which became Fort Pitt).

The French Louis Joseph de Montcalm, one of the great commanders of his time, distinguished himself (1758) by repulsing the attack of James Abercromby on Ticonderoga.

The next year that fort fell to Amherst.

In the West, the hold of Sir William Johnson over the Iroquois and the activities of border troops under his general commandmost spectacular, perhaps, were the exploits of the rangers under Robert Rogersreduced French holdings and influence.

The war became a fight for the St. Lawrence, with Montcalm pitted against the brilliant Wolfe.

The climax came in 1759 in the open battle on the Plains of Abraham. Both Wolfe and Montcalm were killed, but Quebec fell to the British. In 1760, Montreal also fell, and the war was over. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended French control of Canada, which went to Great Britain.


The Northern Area


The Northern area covered most of Canada, also known as the Subarctic, in the belt of semiarctic land from the Rocky Mts. to Hudson Bay.

The main languages in this area were those of the Algonquian-Wakashan and the Nadene stocks. Typical of the people there were the Chipewyan.

Limiting environmental conditions prevented farming, but hunting, gathering, and activities such as trapping and fishing were carried on.

Nomadic hunters moved with the season from forest to tundra, killing the caribou in semiannual drives.

Other food was provided by small game, berries, and edible roots. Not only food but clothing and even some shelter (caribou-skin tents) came from the caribou, and with caribou leather thongs the Indians laced their snowshoes and made nets and bags. The snowshoe was one of the most important items of material culture.

The shaman featured in the religion of many of these people.


The Northwest Coast Area


The Northwest Coast area extended along the Pacific coast from S. Alaska to N. California.

The main language families in this area were the Nadene in the north and the Wakashan (a subdivision of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock) and the Tsimshian (a subdivision of the Penutian linguistic stock) in the central area.

Typical tribes were the Kwakiutl, the Haida, the Tsimshian, and the Nootka.

Thickly wooded, with a temperate climate and heavy rainfall, the area had long supported a large Native American population.

Salmon was the staple food, supplemented by sea mammals (seals and sea lions) and land mammals (deer, elk, and bears) as well as berries and other wild fruit.

The Native Americans of this area used wood to build their houses and had cedar-planked canoes and carved dugouts.

In their permanent winter villages some of the groups had totem poles which were elaborately carved and covered with symbolic animal decoration.

Their art work, for which they are famed, also included the making of ceremonial items, such as rattles and masks; weaving; and basketry.

They had a highly stratified society with chiefs, nobles, commoners, and slaves. Public display and disposal of wealth were basic features of the society. They had woven robes, furs, and basket hats as well as wooden armor and helmets for battle. This distinctive culture, which included cannibalistic rituals, was not greatly affected by European influences until after the late 18th cent., when the white fur traders and hunters came to the area.


The Plains Area


The Plains area extended from just N. of the Canadian border S. to Texas and included the grasslands area between the Mississippi River and the foothills of the Rocky Mts.

The main language families in this area were the Algonquian-Wakashan, the Aztec-Tanoan, and the Hokan-Siouan.

In pre-Columbian times there were two distinct types of Native Americans there, sedentary and nomadic.

The sedentary tribes, who had migrated from neighboring regions and had initally settled along the great river valleys, were farmers and lived in permanent villages of dome-shaped earth lodges surrounded by earthen walls. They raised corn, squash, and beans.

The foot nomads, on the other hand, moved about with their goods on dog-drawn travois and eked out a precarious existence by hunting the vast herds of buffalo (bison), usually by driving them into enclosures or rounding them up by setting grass fires. They supplemented their diet by exchanging meat and hides for the corn of the agricultural Native Americans.

The horse, first introduced by the Spanish of the Southwest, appeared in the Plains about the beginning of the 18th cent. and revolutionized the life of the Plains Indians.

Many Native Americans left their villages and joined the nomads.

Mounted and armed with bow and arrow, they ranged the grasslands hunting buffalo.

The other Native Americans remained farmers (the Arikara, the Hidatsa, and the Mandan).

Native Americans from surrounding areas came into the Plains (the Sioux from the Great Lakes, the Comanche and the Kiowa from the west and northwest, and the Navaho and the Apache from the southwest).

A universal sign language developed among the perpetually wandering and often warring Native Americans.

Living on horseback and in the portable tepee, they preserved food by pounding and drying lean meat and made their clothes from buffalo hides and deerskins.

The system of coup was a characteristic feature of their society.

Other features were rites of fasting in quest of a vision, warrior clans, bead and feather art work, and decorated hides.

These Plains Indians were among the last to engage in a serious struggle with the white settlers in the United States.


The Plateau Area


The Plateau area extended from above the Canadian border through the plateau and mountain area of the Rocky Mts. to the Southwest and included much of California.

Typical tribes were the Spokan, the Paiute, the Nez Perc, and the Shoshone.

This was an area of great linguistic diversity.

Because of the inhospitable environment the cultural development was generally low.

The Native Americans in the Central Valley of California and on the California coast, notably the Pomo, were sedentary peoples who gathered edible plants, roots, and fruit and also hunted small game.

Their acorn bread, made by pounding acorns into meal and then leaching it with hot water, was distinctive, and they cooked in baskets filled with water and heated by hot stones.

Living in brush shelters or more substantial lean-tos, they had partly buried earth lodges for ceremonies and ritual sweat baths.

Basketry, coiled and twined, was highly developed.

To the north, between the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mts., the social, political, and religious systems were simple, and art was nonexistent.

The Native Americans there underwent (c.1730) a great cultural change when they obtained from the Plains Indians the horse, the tepee, a form of the sun dance, and deerskin clothes.

They continued, however, to fish for salmon with nets and spears and to gather camas bulbs.

They also gathered ants and other insects and hunted small game and, in later times, buffalo.

Their permanent winter villages on waterways had semisubterranean lodges with conical roofs; a few Native Americans lived in bark-covered long houses.


The Southwest Area


The Southwest area generally extended over Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado and Utah.

The Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock was the main language group of the area.

Here a seminomadic people called the Basket Makers, who hunted with a spear thrower, or atlatl, acquired (c.1000 b.c. ) the art of cultivating beans and squash, probably from their southern neighbors.

They also learned to make unfired pottery.

They wove baskets, sandals, and bags.

By c.700 b.c. they had initiated intensive agriculture, made true pottery, and hunted with bow and arrow.

They lived in pit dwellings, which were partly underground and were lined with slabs of stonethe so-called slab houses.

A new people came into the area some two centuries later; these were the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians.

They lived in large, terraced community houses set on ledges of cliffs or canyons for protection and developed a ceremonial chamber out of what had been the living room of the pit dwellings.

This period of development ended c.1300, after a severe drought and the beginnings of the invasions from the north by the Athabascan-speaking Navaho and Apache.

The known historic Pueblo cultures of such sedentary farming peoples as the Hopi and the Zuni then came into being.

They cultivated corn, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco, killed rabbits with a wooden throwing stick, and traded cotton textiles and corn for buffalo meat from nomadic tribes.

The men wove cotton textiles and cultivated the fields, while women made fine polychrome pottery.

The mythology and religious ceremonies were complex.


Basket Makers


Name given to the members of an early Native North American culture in the Southwest, predecessors of the Pueblo.

Because of the cultural continuity from the Basket Makers to the Pueblos, they are jointly referred to by archaeologists as the Anasazi culture.

They are so called because of their extensive practice of basketmaking; by covering the baskets with clay and baking them hard they created waterproof containers.

One system of dating places their arrival in the area as early as 1500 b.c.

They seem to have been at first nomadic hunters, using wooden clubs, hunting sticks, and the atlatl.

They lived chiefly in houses with adobe floors and learned to grow corn and squash, probably from southern neighbors in Mexico.

As they developed a more extensive agriculture, they dug pits and lined them with stone for grain storage and later built substantial dwellings lined with slabs of stone.

At some time, perhaps c.500 b.c. , they were succeeded in the area by the ancestors of the Pueblo, who probably absorbed many of them.

Some Basket Makers may have moved and may have been the ancestors of other Native American tribes.

Archaeologists divide the time of their culture into the Basket Maker and Modified Basket Maker periods; in the latter period they turned increasingly to agriculture.




Name given by the Spanish to the sedentary Native Americans who lived in stone or adobe communal houses in what is now the S.W. United States.

The term "pueblo" is also used for the villages occupied by the Pueblo.

Their prehistoric settlements, known as the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures, extended southward from S. Utah and S. Colorado into Arizona, New Mexico, and adjacent territory in Mexico.

The transition from archaic hunters and gatherers to sedentary agricultural populations occurred around the first century a.d. , when maize, squash, and beans were widely adopted; the trio of foods is still used by the Pueblos.

Although agriculture provided the bulk of the diet for these early populations, hunting and gathering was an important source of additional foodstuffs.

Pottery manufacture began about a.d. 400 and was used for cooking and water storage.

Clothing was woven from cotton, grown in warmer areas, and yucca fiber.

Early houses among the Anasazi and Mogollon were pit houses, which were replaced by adobe and stone surface dwellings throughout the region by the end of the first millennium a.d.

Villages were variable in size and architectural content, but most included circular, often subterranean structures known as kivas (apparently a derivation of the pit house) and storage pits for grains.

Prior to the 14th and 15th cent., densely settled villages were more the exception than the rule.

Large pueblos were found at Chaco Canyon, dating to the 11th and early 12th cent., and at Mesa Verde, where multistoried cliff houses were inhabited in the 13th and 14th cent.

Changing climatic conditions forced the abandonment of much of the region by the early 14th cent., with populations migrating to their present-day locations in the Rio Grande valley and a few other isolated areas (the Hopi mesas).


Contact with the Spanish


Initial contact with European populations came in the 16th cent., when Spaniards entered the Rio Grande area.

The seven Zuni towns were reported by the Franciscan Marcos de Niza to be the fabulous Seven Cities of Cibola, leading to the first intensive contactsa Spanish exploration party under Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540.

Due to increasing pressure on the existing food supplies, the initially friendly Pueblos became hostile and then revolted; their resistance ended in a mass execution of Native Americans by Coronado.

In 1598 Juan de Oate began full-scale missionary work and moved the provincial headquarters of the Spanish colonial government to Santa Fe.

By 1630, 60,000 Pueblo had been converted to Christianity, and 90 villages had chapels, according to Father de Benavides.

Determined to put an end to the suffering caused by their Spanish oppressors, the Pueblos staged a successful revolt in 1680.

Pop, a medicine man, led a band of Pueblos which killed 380 settlers and 31 missionaries, and forced the remaining Spaniards to retreat to El Paso.

However, the Pueblos lost 347 of their number in one attack on Santa Fe.

Fearing Spanish reprisal, villages were abandoned for better fortified sites.

In 1692 De Vargas, with the cooperation of some Pueblo leaders, reconquered the Pueblos in New Mexico.

The Western Pueblos, however, including the Hopi, remained independent.

The Pueblo have the oldest settlements N. of Mexico, dating back 700 years for the still occupied Hopi, Zuni and Acoma pueblos.

The Europeans who settled in the Southwest adopted the adobe structures and compact village plans of the Pueblos.

The Pueblos, for their part, adopted many domestic animals and assorted crafts from the Old World, including blacksmithing and woodworking.




The Pueblo speak languages of at least two different families.

Languages of the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock are spoken at 11 pueblos, including Taos, Isleta, Jemez, San Juan, San Ildefonso, and the Hopi pueblo of Hano.

Languages of the Keresan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock also are limited to Pueblo people Western Keresan, spoken at Acoma and Laguna, and Eastern Keresan, at San Felipe, Santa Ana, Sia, Cochiti and Santo Domingo.

The Hopi language, which belongs to the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock, is spoken at all Hopi pueblos except Hano.

The Zuni language may be connected with Tanoan, falling within the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock.


Social Structure


Among the modern Pueblo, men are the weavers and women make pottery and assist in house construction.

The status of women among both the Western and the Eastern Pueblos is high, but there are differences related to the different social systems of each.

The Western Pueblos, including the Hano, Zuni, Acoma, Laguna and, the best known, the Hopis, have exogamous clans with a matrilineal emphasis and matrilocal residence, and the houses and gardens are owned by women. The Kachina cult emphasizes weather control, and the Pueblos who follow this cult are governed by a council of clan representatives.

Among the Eastern Pueblos, there are bilateral extended families, patrilineal clans, and male-owned houses and land; warfare and hunting as well as healing and exorcism are more important than among the Western Pueblos.

The Spanish added new elements to the government in the form of civil officers, but the de facto government and ceremonial organization remained native.

In recent years the Bureau of Indian Affairs introduced elected officials in Santa Clara, Laguna, Zuni, and Isleta.

The Hopi have an elected council on the tribal level.

The Kachina and other secret societies dealing with war, agriculture, and healing still carry out their complicated rituals and dances: for some occassions, the public is invited.

The reservation population in Arizona and New Mexico was just over 36,000 in 1980.




Spirit of the invisible life forces of the Pueblo of North America.

The kachinas, or kachinam, are impersonated by elaborately costumed masked male members of the tribes who visit Pueblo villages the first half of the year.

In a variety of ceremonies, they dance, sing, bring gifts to the children and sometimes administer public scoldings.

Although not worshiped, kachinas are greatly revered, and one of their main purposes is to bring rain for the spring crops.

The term kachina also applies to cottonwood dolls made by the Hopi and Zuni that are exquisitely carved and dressed like the dancers.

Originally intended to instruct the children about the hundreds of kachina spirits, the finer carvings have become collector's items. The name is also spelled katchina.


Cliff Dwellers


Native Americans of the Anasazi culture who were builders of the ancient cliff dwellings found in the canyons and on the mesas of the U.S. Southwest, principally on the tributaries of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

It was once thought that these ruins were the work of an extinct aboriginal people, but it has been established that they were built (11th-14th cent.) by the ancestors of the present Pueblo.

The dwellings were large communal habitations built on ledges in the canyon walls and on the flat tops of the mesas.

Access to the cliffs was very difficult and thus highly defensible against nomadic predatory tribes such as the Navaho.

The cliff dwellers were sedentary agriculturists who planted crops in the river valleys below their high-perched houses.

They were experts at irrigating the fields.

Their lives were organized on a communal pattern and the many kivas show that their religious ceremonies were like those of the Pueblo today.

Many of the dwellings are now in national parks.

Some of the better-known ones are those of the Mesa Verde National Park, in Colorado, where there are more than 300 dwellings; Yucca House National Monument, also in Colorado; Hovenweep National Monument, in Utah; and Casa Grande, Montezuma Castle, and Wupatki national monuments, in Arizona. See William Current, Pueblo Architecture of the Southwest (1971).




Group of the Pueblo, formerly called Moki, or Moqui.

They speak the Hopi language, which belongs to the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock, at all their pueblos except Hano, where the language belongs to the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock.

They occupy several mesa villages in N.E. Arizona and numbered 6,624 in 1988.

In 1540, they were visited by some of Francisco Coronado's men under Pedro de Tovar, but because of their geographical isolation they remained more independent of European influence than other Pueblo groups.

The Spanish began to establish missions in 1629 at the pueblos of Awatobi, Oraibi and Shongopovi.

These missions were destroyed in the revolt of 1680, and when the residents of Awatobi invited the missionaries to return, the other Hopi destroyed their village.

After the revolt, Pueblos in the foothills were abandoned and new villages were built on the mesas for defense against possible attack by the Spanish.

The Pueblo of Hano was built by the Tewa, who had fled from the area of the Rio Grande valley that the Spanish reconquered.

During the 18th and 19th cent., the Hopi were subjected to frequent raids by the neighboring Navaho.

The region was pacified by the U.S. Army in the late 19th cent. and a Hopi reservation was established in 1882, but the ambiguous status of much of the reservation enabled Navaho populations to encroach on traditional Hopi lands.

By the 1960s and 70s, Navaho expansion on lands set aside for joint use provoked court action and a definitive partition of the disputed land.

The court-ordered relocation of over 10,000 Navaho and fewer than 100 Hopi from the partitioned lands remains incomplete and is a source of bitter conflict.

The Hopi are sedentary farmers, mainly dependent on corn, beans, and squash; they also raise wheat, cotton, and tobacco, and herd sheep.

Each village is divided into clans and is governed by a chief, who is also the spiritual leader.

Political and religious duties revolved around the clans.

The Badger clan, for instance, still conducts the kachina (fertility) ceremony, and the Antelope and Snake clans perform the famous snake dance at Walpi and other Pueblos.

A Hopi tribal council and constitution was established in 1936, but internal dissension has limited tribal unity. See J. Kammer, The Second Long Walk (1980); S. Rushforth and S. Upham, A Hopi Social History (1992).




Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Athabascan branch of the Nadene linguistic stock.

A migration from the North to the Southwest area is thought to have occurred in the past because of an affiliation with N. Athabascan speakers; the Navaho settled among the Pueblo and also assimilated with the Shoshone and the Yuma both physically and culturally while keeping a distinct social group.






The Navaho are a composite group with over 50 separate clans

In the 17th cent. they occupied the region between the San Juan and Little Colorado rivers in N.E. Arizona, but they ranged far outside that territory.

The Navaho were a predatory tribe who (often in alliance with their relatives, the Apache) constantly raided the Pueblo and later the Spanish and Mexican settlements of New Mexico.

When the Americans occupied (c.1846) New Mexico, the Navaho pillaged them.

Punitive expeditions against the Navaho were only temporarily successful until Kit Carson, by destroying the Navaho's sheep, subdued them in 1863-64.

A majority of them were imprisoned for four years at Fort Sumner in New Mexico.

In 1868 they were released from prison and given a reservation of 3.5 million acres (1,41,000 hectares) in N.E. Arizona, N.W. New Mexico, and S.E. Utah and a new supply of sheep.

The Navaho then numbered some 9,000.

Since that date they have remained a peaceful and industrious people and have been steadily increasing in number.

By the early 1970s, with some 120,000 Navahos on or adjacent to the reservation, they constituted the largest Native American group in the United States.

Their reservation has grown to over 16 million acres (6,475,000 hectares).

Charges of encroachment by neighboring Hopi resulted in Federal Court decisions that partitioned formerly jointly held land.


Way of Life


Navaho Medicine ------------------------------------ Navaho Dye


The Navaho were a nomadic tribe.

In winter they lived in earth-covered lodges and in summer in brush shelters called hogans.

They farmed (corn and beans), hunted (deer, elk, and antelope), and gathered wild vegetable products.

After sheep were introduced (early 17th cent.) by the Spanish, sheep raising superseded hunting and farming. Thus the Navaho became a pastoral people.

They have adopted many peaceful artsfrom the Mexicans metalworking, from the Pueblo weaving.

They live in extended kin groups and traditional inheritance is through the mother's line; women have an important position in the society.

Navaho religion is elaborate and complex, with many deities, songs, chants and prayers and numerous colorful ceremonies, such as the squaw dance and the night chant.

The vast mythology includes a creation myth that states that Esdzanadkhi (probably Mother Earth) created humanity.

The Navaho have also subscribed to the peyote cult.

In the 1930s the overgrazed and eroded grasslands of the Navaho Reservation caused the federal government to reduce the tribe's sheep, cattle, and horses by as much as 50%.

The government, having left the Navaho without a means of support, began a program of irrigation projects, thus enabling them to turn to agriculture for a livelihood.

Farming, however, can support only a fraction of the people and as a result many have had to obtain their income off the reservation.

The discovery of oil, gas, and other minerals has helped to increase the tribal income (now about $16 million per year).




Spineless cactus (Lophophora williamsii), eaten by indigenous people in Mexico and the United States to produce visions.

The plant is native to the S.W. United States and Mexico, where it grows in dry soil.

The plant is light blue-green, bears small pink flowers, and has a carrot-shaped root.

The mushroom like crown, called a peyote, or mescal button (but unrelated to the liquor mescal), is cut off, and chewed or brewed into a concoction for drinking or rolled into pellets to be swallowed for its narcotic effect.

The active substance in peyote is mescaline, one of several naturally occurring psychotomimetic drugs.

An alkaloid, mescaline tastes bitter, causes an initial feeling of nausea, then produces visions and changes in perception, time sense, and mood.

There are no uncomfortable aftereffects, and the drug is not physiologically habit forming.

Peyote has been used since pre-Columbian times and is regarded by its inhabitants as a panacea.

It is important in the Native American Church, which fused Christian doctrine with peyote-eating tribal ritual. See Weston La Barre, The Peyote Cult (rev. ed., 1969).


Antiquity and Prehistory of Native American


Study of the origins of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas.

The first humans to inhabit the Americas are presumed to have moved from N.E. Asia across a land bridge, known as Beringia, exposed in the Bering Sea region several times during the Ice Age.

The number of migrations and the size of migrating populations are unknown, though the evidence currently available suggests at least three separate waves, probably by relatively small groups.

The date at which these migrations occurred is also unknown.

Archaeological sites with the oldest known remains in the Americas, including Old Crow (Alaska), Meadowcroft (Pennsylvania), Monte Verde (Chile) and Pedra Furada (Brazil), appear to date to about 30,000 b.c. , although many experts regard these dates as unproven.

On the other hand, the lack of more conclusive evidence pointing to early occupation of North America is often attributed to the fact that much of the continent was covered by glaciers and probably uninhabited or only sparsely settled.

Other areas are now covered with several meters of recent alluvial deposits, and any remains that may exist are thus obscured from view.

The best known early cultures in the Americas, dating from 10,000-4000 b.c. , are known as Paleo-Indians, who were widely distributed on both continents.

All known groups during this period were big-game hunters, dependent largely on extinct mammalian species such as mammoth, camel, horse, ground sloth and bison.

The traditional cultural sequence identified by archaeologists is based on stone tool types found on the Great Plains of North America.

In other regions, technologies were adapted to local hunting techniques and game species, and seem to show a similar pattern of dependence on large mammals.

By about 5000 b.c. , most of the large mammals upon which Paleo-Indians had depended were extinct, forcing human groups to diversity economic strategies and increase their reliance on smaller fauna and plant foods.

The adaptations which emerged, known collectively as Archaic adaptations, were highly specialized in response to local environmental conditions.

In some areas of the New World, Archaic lifestyles survived essentially unchanged until the European conquest.

In other areas, most notably the Andean region, the Amazon basin, Mesoamerica, the S.W. United States and the Mississippi basin and eastern woodlands, Archaic Native Americans evolved into sedentary agricultural societies, beginning about 2000 b.c. See J. D. Jennings, Prehistory of North America, (rev. ed. 1974); S. J. Fiedel, Prehistory of the Americas (2d ed. 1992).


Woodland Culture


Term used to refer to Native American societies inhabiting the eastern United States.

The earliest Woodland groups were the Adena and Hopewell, who lived in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys between 800 b.c. and a.d. 800.

Both groups are known for their large burial mounds, often provisioned with finely crafted grave items.

Like earlier archaic populations the Adena were hunters and gatherers living in seasonal camps.

The Hopewell, as with later Woodland cultures, lived in villages and supplemented their hunting and gathering with the cultivation of some domesticated plants.


Native American Music


The music of Native North Americans is primarily a vocal art, usually choral, although some nations favor solo singing.

Native American music is entirely melodic; there is no harmony and no polyphony, although there is occasional antiphonal singing between soloist and chorus.

The melody is, in general, characterized by a descending melodic figure; its rhythm is irregular.

There is no conception of absolute pitch and intonation can appear uncertain, the result of the distinctive method of voice production, involving muscular tension in the vocal apparatus and making possible frequent strong accents and glissandos.

Singing is nearly always accompanied, at least by drums.

Drums and rattles are the chief percussion instruments and are of various types.

The wind instruments are mainly flutes and whistles.

For the Native American, song is the chief means of communicating with the supernatural powers and music is seldom performed for its own sake; definite results, such as the bringing of rain, success in battle, or the curing of the sick, are expected from music.

There are three classes of songstraditional songs, which are handed down from generation to generation; ceremonial and medicine songs; and modern songs, which show the influence of European culture.

Songs of the second group are supposed to have been received by their owners in dreams.

Songs of heroes are often old songs, adapted to the occasion with the insertion of the new hero's name.

The love songs often are influenced by the music of whites and are regarded as degenerate by many Native Americans. See Frances Densmore, The American Indians and Their Music (rev. ed. 1936); Charles Kaywood, A Bibliography of North American Folklore and Folksong (1951); Charles Hofman, American Indians Sing (1967); and many books by Frances Densmore on music of individual tribes (most repr. 1972).



North American Native Art



Deer Hunter ---------------------------- Native Arts


Diverse traditional arts of native North Americans.

In recent years Native American arts have become commodities collected and marketed by nonindigenous Americans and Europeans.

Originally, these objects were produced in different cultural contexts and for altogether different purposes.

In many cases native peoples endowed utilitarian objects with aesthetic qualities not strictly related to the objects' primary function.

In addition, some groups produced articles symbolizing status positions or items of religious significance.


Characteristic Objects



Pottery Arts



Walpi Kachina Dolls



Characteristic Objects






Sioux Moccasins and Oglala pipe bags


The material culture of the Eastern Woodland groups (such as the Cherokee and Iroquois), for example, included decorated pottery and baskets, quillwork and beadwork, birchbark utensils, plaited sashes, and carved wood ritual masks.

Early Woodland cultures, including the Adena and Hopewell, are renowned for their elaborate grave offerings, including copper plates and earspools, objects made of other minerals (mica, silver, meteoric iron), shell and pearl beads, and ceramic vessels and figurines.

The mainstay of life for the Native Americans of the Great Plains (such as the Arapaho, Blackfoot, Crow and Sioux) was the buffalo, whose skin, both rawhide and tanned, was used for clothing, containers, tepee covers, and shields.

Triangular and quadrangular designs were often painted or embroidered on these items, with beads and porcupine quills.

Featherwork, of which the familiar war bonnet is a prime example, was lavish.

California, Great Basin and Plateau groups (Pomo, Nez-Perc, Paiute) lived by gathering, hunting, and some fishing.

They developed basketry, especially in N. and Central California, as a highly refined art.

Using a great variety of materials, these groups created many different basketry forms and techniques to make such items as baby carriers, collecting and winnowing baskets, fish weirs, and hats.

As cooking and serving containers, the baskets were watertight.

They also fashioned ceremonial and gift baskets imbued with religious significance.

Featherwork was used for headdresses, capes, skirts, and mantles, in dance costumes, and as decoration, together with beads, on baskets.

In the Southwest, Native Americans generally practiced agriculture and lived in settled villages.

In that region pottery making, particularly of jars and bowls, is still today a highly developed art with a rich tradition extending back to pre-Columbian times.

An art of strong, graphic, geometric design developed for pottery decoration.

Southwestern groups cultivated cotton to be spun into yarn and used a backstrap loom with heddles prior to European contact.

The Spaniards brought sheep to the region, which the Navaho adopted for weaving intricately patterned woolen rugs and blankets.

Many designs for blankets were adapted from the ritual sandpaintings of the Navaho.

The Hopi and Zuni developed brilliantly carved and ornamented kachina dolls to represent living spirits; these are greatly valued by collectors today.

After the Spanish conquest, silverworking evolved among the Southwestern Pueblo groups, especially among the Navaho, Zuni, and Hopi, who perfected it to the level of fine art, largely as jewelry.

On the heavily forested Northwest Coast, the Native American groups (Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Nootka, and Salish) developed elaborate woodcarving techniques used to fabricate tools, houses, huge dugout canoes, totem poles, and other heraldic and ritual posts, as well as outstanding masks, bowls, and ladles.

Human and animal figures were stylized to abstraction in this work.

In addition, they made superb basketry and clothing by twining, and produced metalwork weapons and jewelry.

In Arctic regions the skin and fur garments of Eskimo groups were elaborately tailored and occasionally decorated.

Eskimos carved sculptures of Arctic animal life (including seals, walruses, and polar bears) and hunting motifs, using stone, ivory, and bone, and made elaborate ceremonial masks.

The subjects of their work were chosen from their extensive mythology as well as their everyday experience.


The Effects of European Contact



Southwest Arts



Zuni Kachina Arts


It is important to note that prior to European contact, Native American groups did not generally produce art for its own sake.

Objects, often utilitarian in function, were adorned with symbolic elements drawn from their daily lives or cosmologies.

In other instances minute differences in design motifs on clothing or residential structures served as differentiating mechanisms, rendering the identity of the group immediately apparent to knowledgeable outsiders.

Standards of beauty, to the extent that they were considered at all, were based on traditional notions, not on innovation or experimentation away from the cultural norm.

With the coming of European populations and the devastation of Native American cultures, artifacts were avidly sought for museum and private collections.

That early collectors attributed great value to often mundane objects almost certainly struck historic Native Americans as odd, so that when the articles were not stolen outright they were usually acquired by buyers at bargain rates.

This has provoked numerous conflicts in recent years as Native Americans become increasingly vocal in calling for the return of museum items symbolizing their cultural heritage.

In recent years the abject poverty of surviving Native American populations, combined with the growing demand for artisans commodities in industrialized countries, has stimulated the emergence of increasing numbers of North American native craftsmen.

Art has thus become a cottage industry serving tourist markets as well as demand by more discriminating collectors.

Among the most sought-after articles are works of jewelry, Eskimo sculpture, as well as the textiles and ceramics of the Southwestern groups.




Totems are animal, plant, or minireal enities that come to teach, guide, and protect the one they come to.

One does not pick a totem....the totem will pick who it is going to be with.

Some may have many totems, some may only have one.

Different cultures may use different animals as totems...but all is the basically for the same purpose.

The word totem comes from an Ojibwa word, nintotem, which means "my family mark."


- The Spider -

(Creative, pattern of life)

Spider connects the past with the future, creating possibilities.

Spider-woman is a major Pueblo goddess.

Spider is another medicine that varies greatly from tribe to tribe.

One tribe has associated the white man with spider medicine.

Their prophecy says that when the white man (Spider) has connected all of his power lines and forms a great web over the earth, then his world will burn and he will be destroyed.

Yet, another tribe speaks of the Spider Woman who weaves existence together like great strands of a web.

Learning these stories of the Spider Woman can help one understand " that we are all connected". By dishonoring one, we dishonor ourselves.


- The Cougar -

(Power, Swiftness and Balance)

By watching the swift movements of the cougar, one becomes keenly aware that no movement is wasted, no footing unplanned, in their quest for the item they desire.

The cougar never wastes anything, but the grace of this hunter provides the young with nourishment and security.

Cougars mark their home range, which differs from a true territory because the home ranges often overlap

The juveniles may establish a home range of from six to ten miles away.

Within that area, the cat maintains a small resting range for its exclusive use while sharing the remaining hunting area with its neighbor.

The cougar scrapes together a pile of leaves along well-traveled trails and marks them with urine.

Any wandering lion respects the "No Tresspassing" sign and turns away to avoid conflict.

Someone with "Mountain lion or Cougar Medicine" is likely to be very sure of his/her purpose or goals.

They often prefer solitude, and have little regret in taking the easiest prey.


- The Bear -

( Dreams and Gentle Strength )

The brown bear, common to areas of the Southwestern State in the US can grow from 4 to 5 feet and weigh as much as 450 lbs.

Although they have great strength, their gentelness makes the bear's behavior almost "human like".

They are relatively good natured, but, don't get foolish and plan on making them mad.

They have a very serious side!!!

Bears hibernate in the winter, which explains their association with "dreaming the Great Spirit" or retrospection.

The symbolism of the bears cave being like returning to the womb of Mother Earth, also suggests a strong feminine aspect, one of nurturing and protection.

Bear cubs, born in the early spring can spend up to as many as 7 years with the mother bear before reaching full maturity.

People with "Brown Bear Medicine" are considered by many as self sufficient and would rather stand on their own 2 feet than rely on others.

They are often considered "dreamers".

Many have developed the skill of visualizing new things, but as a result can get caught up in the "dreaming" making little progress in "waking" reality.


- The Coyote -

Different tribes assign different meanings to each animal, but the association of the Trickster to that of the coyote is by far the most predominant popularized today.

Studying the traits, habitats, and surroundings of any animal can give one an insight into its spiritual significance.

Coyote is said to trick the learner into the lesson, almost giving one the notion that things are not as they seem, until the lesson is done and the wisdom gained.

Coyote medicine is powerful.

In moving from one disaster to the next, Coyote tricks himself into moving through spiritual quests in such a way that lessons learned from his antics cannot be ignored.

It has been said that humor is a great medicine, maybe that is why it is associated with Coyote.

If we can learn to laugh at ourselves, then we have indeed been blessed with understanding Coyote medicine.


- The Eagle -

( Bravery, Courage,and Spirit )

Eagles have long been associated with the highest pursuits.

In 1969 a voice rang out to the world, "The eagle has landed."

There was no better symbology for a landing on the moon than the "eagle".

From the time that the Persians and Romans carried eagles into battle, these majestic birds have always symbolized courage, strength and bravery.

As arial hunters, eagles are the undisputed masters of the skies.

Many tribes have identified the eagle as the one closest to the Creator.

The wings of the eagle are an engineering marvel with feathers that can act as little winglets to reduce turbulance, increase lift and prevent stalling at low speeds.

With a grasp much stronger than a human hand, the eagles talons have legendary power.

The Eagle uses its powerful back talon to kill small prey instantaneously while its front three grasp its prey securely.

Eagle feathers, revered by Native American Indains Healers as having powerful medicine, are regulated by a "feather bank" insuring that eagles are not killed for their powerful medicine.

Eagle Medicine is the power of the Great Spirit. It is the spirit of tenacity.

People with Eagle Medicine often have "high ideals" and need space to spread their wings.

It is no accident that men in many tribes adorned themselves with eagle feathers given for acts of courage and bravery, and that a healer gingerly wraps his eagle feather in his medicine bundle after a ceremony.


- The Raven -

(Trickster, teacher, hoarder)

To Pacific Northwest Coast tribes, Raven represented the 'holy man's' powers" and a belief in transformation between human and animal spirits.

Raven symbolizes change in conciousness and is the mark of a shape shifter.


- The Wolf -

(Loyalty, success, perseverance, stability and thought)

Wolves are also regarded as pathfinders and teachers.

Wolf is represented by the constellation Sirius, the Dog.

In the Zuni tradition the Wolf symbolizes the direction East.


- The Owl -

(Wisdom, truth, patience)

The Mescalero believe that Owl carries the souls of the recently deceased, a death messenger.

Owl is the totem of clairvoyants and mystics.


- The Snake -

(Shrewdness, transformation)

Life, death and rebirth are represented by the shedding of skin.

Among the Pueblo Indians snakes and lightning are equated with rain and fertility.


Native American Church


Religious cult of the Navaho; it blends fundamentalist Christian elements and pan-Native American moral principles.

The movement began among the Kiowa about 1890 and, led by John Wilson (Big Moon), soon spread to other tribes.

The sacramental food of the cult was peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus, and the group came to be known as peyotists.

In 1918, peyotists from a number of tribes incorporated their movement as the Native American Church.

In 1940 the cult was declared illegal by the Navaho Tribal Council, which saw it as a threat to Navaho culture and to Christianized Navahos.

The church flourished underground, however, until 1967, when the tribe reversed its decision.



( French nickname - Sioux, the enemy )


Sioux Indian Prayer


Confederation of Native North American tribes, the dominant group of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock, which is divided into several separate branches.

The Sioux, or Dakota, consisted of seven tribes in three major divisions: Wahpekute, Mdewakantonwan, Wahpetonwan, Sisitonwan (who together formed the Santee or Eastern division, sometimes referred to as the Dakota), the Ihanktonwan, or Yankton, and the Ihanktonwana, or Yanktonai (who form the Middle division, sometimes referred to as the Nakota), and the Titonwan, or Teton (who form the Western division, sometimes referred to as the Lakota).

The Tetons, originally a single band, divided into seven sub-bands after the move to the plains, these seven including the Hunkpapa, Sihasapa (or Blackfoot), and Oglala.


Relations with White Settlers


In relations with the white settlers all the divisions of the Sioux have a similar history.

The Sioux became friendly with the British after the fall of the French power and supported the British against the United States in the American Revolution and (with the exception of one chief, Tohami, also known as Rising Moose) in the War of 1812.

The United States concluded treaties with the Sioux in 1815, 1825, and 1851.

A portion of the Sioux under Little Crow rose in 1862 and massacred more than 800 settlers and soldiers in Minnesota; this revolt was suppressed but unrest continued.

In 1867 a treaty was concluded by which the Sioux gave up a large section of territory and agreed to retire to a reservation in S.W. Dakota before 1876.

The discovery of gold in the Black Hills and the subsequent rush of prospectors brought resistance under the leadership of such chiefs as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Rain-in-the-Face, Crazy Horse, American Horse, and Gall.

In this revolt occurred the famous last stand by Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

The last major conflict fought by the Sioux was the battle of Wounded Knee, Dec. 29, 1890, which resulted in the massacre of over 200 Native Americans.



Sitting Bull


Native American chief, Sioux leader in the battle of the Little Bighorn.

He rose to prominence in the Sioux warfare against the whites and the resistance of the Native Americans under his command to forced settlement on a reservation led to a punitive expedition.

In the course of the resistance occurred the Native American victory on the Little Bighorn, where George Armstrong Custer and his men were defeated and killed on June 25, 1876. Sitting Bull and some of his followers escaped to Canada, but returned (1881) on a promise of a pardon and were settled on a reservation.

In 1885 he appeared in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, but his championship of the Native American cause was not at an end.

He encouraged the Sioux to refuse to sell their lands and he advocated the ghost dance religion.

He was killed by Native American police on a charge of resisting arrest.

He was buried in North Dakota, but in 1954 his remains were removed to South Dakota.

See J. M. Carroll, ed., The Arrest and Killing of Sitting Bull: A Documentary (1986); biographies by Stanley Vestal (rev. ed. 1957, repr. 1972); A. B. Adams (1973); K. B. Smith (1987).



Red Cloud


Native North American chief, leader of the Oglala Sioux.

He led the Native American warfare against the establishment of the Bozeman Trail.

The Fetterman Massacre in 1866 led to partial abandonment of the trail.

Red Cloud's continual hostility led the government finally to abandon completely (1868) the trail and the forts built to protect it.

After signing a treaty he lived in peace with the whites, although he was later charged with duplicity in encouraging hostile Native Americans.

Deposed as chief in 1881, he lived there after in retirement on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

See J. C. Olson, Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem (1965).



Crazy Horse

d. 1877

Native American chief of the Oglala Sioux.

He was a prominent leader in the Sioux resistance to the encroachment of whites in the mineral-rich Black Hills.

When Crazy Horse and his people refused to go on a reservation, troops attacked (March 17, 1876) their camp on Powder River.

The great war chief was victorious in that battle as well as in his encounter with Gen. George Crook on the Rosebud River (June 17).

Crazy Horse joined Sitting Bull and Gall in defeating George Armstrong Custer at the battle of the Little Bighorn (June 25).

In Jan., 1877, Gen. Nelson Appleton Miles attacked his camp, and Crazy Horse and his followers spent the remainder of the winter in a state of near starvation.

The group, numbering about 1,000, finally surrendered at the Red Cloud agency in May.

Imprisoned because of a rumor that he was planning a revolt, Crazy Horse was stabbed to death with a bayonet when attempting to escape.

His bravery and skill were generally acknowledged and he is revered by the Sioux as their greatest leader.

See biographies by Mari Sandoz (1942, repr. 1955) and E. A. Brininstool (1949).


Wounded Knee



Creek, rising in S.W. S. Dak. and flowing N.W. to the White River; site of the last major battle of the Indian wars.

After the death of Sitting Bull, a band of Sioux, led by Big Foot, fled into the badlands, where they were captured by the 7th Cavalry on Dec. 28, 1890, and brought to the creek

On Dec. 29, the Sioux were ordered disarmed; but when a medicine man threw dust into the air, a warrior pulled a gun and wounded an officer.

The U.S. troops opened fire, and within minutes almost 200 men, women and children were shot.

The soldiers later claimed that it was difficult to distinguish the Sioux women from the men.


George Armstrong Custer


1839-76, American army officer, b. New Rumley, Ohio, grad. West Point, 1861.


Civil War Servic


Custer fought in the Civil War at the first battle of Bull Run, distinguished himself as a member of General McClellan's staff in the Peninsular campaign, and was made a brigadier general of volunteers in June, 1863.

The youngest general in the Union army, Custer ably led a cavalry brigade in the Gettysburg campaign.

He fought in Virginia in the great cavalry battle at Yellow Tavern and in General Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley campaign.

Made a divisional commander in Oct., 1864, he defeated (Oct. 9) Gen. Thomas L. Rosser at Woodstock.

After dispersing the remnants of Gen. Jubal A. Early's command at Waynesboro on March 2, 1865, he was in the advance in pursuit of Lee's army beyond Richmond.

Custer received the Confederate flag of truce, was present at the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse and was promoted major general of volunteers.

His record (he had also been brevetted a major general in the regular army), considering his youth, was one of the most spectacular of the war.


The 7th Cavalry


In the reorganization of the U.S. army after the war Custer was assigned to the 7th Cavalry with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and he remained the acting commander of this regiment until his death.

In 1867 he was court-martialed and removed from command for leaving his command at Fort Wallace, Kansas, without permission, but in Sept., 1868, he was reinstated, mostly through the efforts of Sheridan, with whom he had always been a favorite.

In the massacre of the Cheyenne and their allies at the battle of the Washita (Nov., 1868), he was accused of abandoning a small detachment of his men, who were annihilated.

He served (1873) in Dakota Territory and in 1874 commanded the expedition into the Black Hills that led to renewed hostilities with the Sioux.

In the comprehensive campaign against the Sioux planned in 1876, Custer's regiment was detailed to the column under the commanding general, Alfred H. Terry, that marched from Bismarck to the Yellowstone River.

At the mouth of the Rosebud, Terry sent Custer forward to locate the enemy while he marched on to join the column under Gen. John Gibbon.

Custer came upon the warrior encampment on the Little Bighorn on June 25 and decided to attack at once.

Not realizing the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Native Americans, most of whom lay concealed in ravines, he divided his regiment into three parts, sending two of them, under Major Marcus A. Reno and Capt. Frederick W. Benteen, to attack farther upstream, while he himself led the third (over 200 men) in a direct charge.

Every one of them was killed in battle.

Reno and Benteen were themselves kept on the defensive and not until Terry's arrival was the extent of the tragedy known.

The men (except Custer, whose remains were reinterred at West Point) were buried on the battlefield, now a national monument in Montana.

Custer's spectacular death made him a popular but controversial hero, still the subject of much dispute as to his actions and character.


Migration toward the Southwest


The Sioux were first noted historically in the Jesuit Relation of 1640, when they were living in what is now Minnesota.

Their traditions indicate that they had moved there some time before from the northeast.

They were noted in 1678 by the French explorer Daniel Duluth and in 1680 by Father Louis Hennepin in the Mille Lacs region in Minnesota.

Their migration had been in a southwesterly direction in the face of the hostile Ojibwa, who had been equipped with guns by Europeans.

In the mid-18th cent., having driven the Cheyenne and Kiowa out of the Black Hills, the Sioux inhabited the N. Great Plains and the western prairiesmainly in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota and up into the bordering provinces of Canada.

They then numbered at least 30,000.

The Tetons, numbering some 15,000, were the most populous of the seven tribes, and the Oglala Sioux, the largest group of the Teton, numbered some 3,000.

The Sioux had a typical Plains area culture, including buffalo hunting and the sun dance.


The Sioux Today


Today they live mainly on reservations in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana; they number over 100,000.

In Feb., 1973, about 200 Native American supporters, mostly Sioux, of the American Indian Movement seized control of the hamlet of Wounded Knee, S.Dak., demanding U.S. Senate investigations of Native American conditions.

The occupation lasted 70 days, during which about 300 persons were arrested by Federal agents.


Indian Territory


In U.S. history, name applied to the country set aside for Native Americans by the Indian Intercourse Act (1834).

In the 1820s, the Federal government began moving the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw) of the Southeast to lands West of the Mississippi River.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 gave the President authority to designate specific lands for them and in 1834 Congress formally approved the choice.

The Indian Territory included present-day Oklahoma N. and E. of the Red River, as well as Kansas and Nebraska; the lands were delimited in 1854, however, by the creation of the Kansas and Nebraska territories.

Tribes other than the original five also moved there, but each tribe maintained its own government.

As white settlers continued to move westward, pressure to abolish the Indian Territory mounted.

With the opening of W. Oklahoma to whites in 1889 the way was prepared for the extinction of the territory, achieved in 1907 with the entrance of Oklahoma into the Union.




Largest and most important single Native American group in the S.E. United States, formerly occupying the mountain areas of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

The Cherokee language belongs to the Iroquoian branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock .

By the 16th century the Cherokees had a settled, advanced culture based on agriculture.

Hernando de Soto visited them in 1540. They were frequently at war with the Iroquois tribes of New York, but generally sided with the British against the French and proved valuable allies.

Soon after 1750 they suffered a severe smallpox epidemic that destroyed almost half the tribe.

Formerly friendly with the Carolina settlers, the Cherokee were provoked into war with the colonists in 1760, and two years of warfare followed before the Cherokee sued for peace.

In 1820 they adopted a republican form of government and in 1827 established themselves as the Cherokee Nation under a constitution.

This instrument provided for an elective principal chief, a senate and a house of representatives.

Literacy was aided by the invention of a Cherokee syllabary or syllabic alphabet by Sequoyah, also known as George Guess.

Its 85 characters, representing syllables in the Cherokee language, permitted the keeping of tribal records and, later, the publication of newspapers in Cherokee.

The discovery of gold in Cherokee territory resulted in pressure by the whites to obtain their lands.

A treaty was extracted from a small part of the tribe, which bound the whole tribe to move beyond the Mississippi River within three years.

Although the Cherokee overwhelmingly repudiated this document and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the nation's autonomy, the state of Georgia secured an order for their removal, which was accomplished by military force.

President Andrew Jackson refused to intervene and in 1838 the tribe was deported to the Indian Territory (later in Oklahoma).

Their leader at this time and until 1866 was Chief John Ross.

Thousands died on the march, known as the Trail of Tears, or from subsequent hardships.

They made their capital at Tahlequah, instituted a public school system, published newspapers, and were the most important of the Five Civilized Tribes.

In the U.S. Civil War their allegiance was divided between North and South, large contingents serving on each side.

By a new treaty at the close of the war they freed their black slaves and admitted them to tribal citizenship.

In 1892 they sold their western territorial extension, known as the Cherokee Strip and in 1906 formally disbanded as a tribe, becoming U.S. citizens.

However, tribal entities still exist and many Cherokee live on tribal landholdings.

A few thousand Cherokee are still in W. North Carolina, the descendants of the few who successfully resisted removal or returned after the removal.






Native North American leader, creator of the Cherokee syllabary, b. Loudon co., Tenn.

Although many historians believe that he was the son of a Cherokee woman and a white trader named Nathaniel Gist, his descendants dispute this claim.

To most Americans he was known as George Guess ; to the Cherokee he was known as Sogwali.

The name Sequoyah was given to him by missionaries.

A silversmith and a trader in the Cherokee country in Georgia, he set out to create a system for reducing the Cherokee language to writing, and he compiled a table of 85 characters; he took some letters from an English spelling book and by inversion, modification, and invention adopted the symbols to Cherokee sounds.

There is some dispute as to when the syllabary was completed.

Many historians date its completion at about 1821; Cherokee tradition holds that it was created much earlier and was actually in use as early as the late 18th cent.

In 1822, Sequoyah visited the Cherokee in Arkansas, and soon he taught thousands of the Native Americans to read and write.

He moved with them to present-day Oklahoma.

Parts of the Bible were soon printed in Cherokee, and in 1828 a weekly newspaper was begun.

His remarkable achievement helped to unite the Cherokee and make them leaders among other Native Americans.

The giant tree, sequoia, is named for him.

See biographies by Grant Foreman (1938, repr. 1970) and C. C. Coblentz (1946, repr. 1962); Traveller Bird, Tell Them They Lie: The Sequoyah Myth (1971).




Indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock.

The Cheyenne abandoned their settlements in Minnesota in the 17th cent., leaving the region to the hostile Sioux and Ojibwa.

Gradually migrating W. along the Cheyenne River and then south, they established earth-lodge villages and raised crops.

After the introduction of the horse (c.1760) they eventually became nomadic buffalo hunters.

The tribe split (c.1830) when a large group decided to settle on the upper Arkansas River and take advantage of the trade facilities offered by Bent's Fort.

This group became known as the Southern Cheyenne.

The Northern Cheyenne continued to live about the headwaters of the Platte River.

For the next few years the Southern Cheyenne, allied with the Arapaho, were engaged in constant warfare against the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache.

Peace was made c.1840, and the five tribes became allies.

The Cheyenne were generally friendly toward white settlers, until the discovery of gold in Colorado (1858) brought a swarm of gold seekers into their lands.

By a treaty signed in 1861 the Cheyenne agreed to live on a reservation in S.E. Colorado, but the U.S. government did not fulfill its obligations, and the Native Americans were reduced to near starvation.

Cheyenne raids resulted in punitive expeditions by the U.S. army.

The indiscriminate massacre (1864) of warriors, women, and children at Sand Creek, Colo., was an unprovoked assault on a friendly group.

The incident aroused the Native Americans to fury and a bitter war followed.

Gen. George Custer destroyed (1868) Black Kettle's camp on the Washita River and fighting between the whites and the Southern Cheyenne ended, except for an outbreak in 1874-75.

The Northern Cheyenne joined with the Sioux in massacring Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

They finally surrendered in 1877 and were moved south and confined with the Southern Cheyenne in what is now Oklahoma.

Plagued by disease and malnutrition, they made two desperate attempts to escape and return to the north.

A separate reservation was eventually established for them in Montana.

See G. B. Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes (1915, repr. 1956) and The Cheyenne Indians (2 vol., 1923, repr. 1972); E. A. Hoebel, The Cheyennes (1960); D. J. Berthrong, The Southern Cheyennes (1963); Joseph Millard, The Cheyenne Wars (1964); John Stands in Timber and Margot Liberty, Cheyenne Memories (1967); P. J. Powell, Sweet Medicine (2 vol., 1969); John H. Moore, The Cheyenne Nation (1987).


Black Kettle


d. 1868


Chief of the southern Cheyenne in Colorado.

His attempt to make peace (1864) with the white men ended in the massacre of about half his people at Sand Creek.

Despite this treachery on the part of the whites, he continued to seek peace with them, and in 1865 he signed the Treaty of the Little Arkansas.

The government ignored its guarantees, and Black Kettle tried again to negotiate, signing the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867.

The Cheyenne might have retired to the reservation provided for them, had it not been for Gen. George Armstrong Custer. On Nov. 27, 1868, Custer and his 7th Cavalry attacked Black Kettle's camp on the Washita River without warning and killed the chief and hundreds of Native Americans.




Native North American confederacy.

The peoples forming it were mostly of the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock.

The Creek received their name from early white traders because so many of their villages were located at rivers and creeks.

They lived primarily in Alabama and Georgia and were settled, agricultural people.

There were more than 50 towns, generally called tribes, in the confederacy, which was formed chiefly for protection against the tribes to the north.

Certain villages were set aside for war ceremonies, others for peace celebrations.

Each had its annual green corn dance.

This festival was a time for renewing social ties and was a period of amnesty for criminals, except murderers.

The Creek Confederacy was not ruled by a permanent central government.

The structure was a combination of democratic and communal principles.

Decisions by the national council were not binding on towns or individuals who wished to dissent.

Nevertheless, civil strife was almost unknown among them.

Private ownership of land was unknown, but crops were privately owned to a degree.

Each owner was required to contribute a certain portion for public use.

The Creek impressed the early white men (Hernando De Soto saw them in 1540) by their height, their proud bearing, and their love of ornament.

They were hostile to the Spanish and therefore friendly to the British in colonial days, but, frightened by white encroachment and fired by the teachings of the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, they rebelled in the Creek War of 1813-14.

They massacred a large number of whites and blacks at Fort Mims, and Andrew Jackson won part of his reputation by defeating them at the battle of Horseshoe Bend.

By a treaty signed in 1814 the Creek ceded approximately two thirds of their land to the United States, and subsequent cessions further reduced their holdings.

Eventually they were moved to the Indian Territory, where they became one of the Five Civilized Tribes.

A treaty signed by the confederacy in 1889 permitted white settlement of their lands, and there was great bitterness among the Creek.

By the early 1970s there were some 17,000 Creek, most of them living in Oklahoma.

See J. R. Swanton, The Early History of the Creek Indians (1922) and Social Origins and Social Usages of the Indians of the Creek Confederacy (1928, repr. 1970); Grant Foreman, The Five Civilized Tribes (new ed. 1953, repr. 1966); D. H. Corkran, The Creek Frontier, 1540-1783 (1967).




Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock.

They separated (their name means ldquor ; separatist ; rdquor;) from the Creek in the early 18th cent., and settled in the former territory of the Apalachee in Florida.

They gradually grew in strength, absorbing many runaway black slaves and the remnants of the Apalachee.

While still under Spanish rule, the Seminoles became involved in several major confrontations with the United States, particularly in the War of 1812 and again in 1817-18.

In the retaliatory expedition of 1817-18, Gen. Andrew Jackson invaded Florida with over 3,000 men to punish the Seminoles.

By the Treaty of Paynes Landing (1832), the Seminoles were bound to move W. of the Mississippi River within three years.

Most Seminoles, led by Osceola, refused to go and prepared themselves for resistance.

In 1835, the Seminole War began, which proved to be the most costly of the Indian wars in which the United States engaged.

Lasting for nearly eight years, the war cost the lives of 1,500 U.S. soldiers and absorbed at least $30 million.

The Seminoles, finally subdued (1842), consented to move to the West, although some remained isolated in the Everglades.

In Oklahoma, the Seminoles are one of the Five Civilized Tribes.

See J. K. Mahon, History of the Second Seminole War (1967); J. H. Howard, Oklahoma Seminoles (1984); M. S. Garbarino, The Seminole (1988).






Paiute, prophet of a messianic religion sometimes called the Ghost Dance religion.

Also known as Jack Wilson, he was influenced by his father (a mystic), as well as by the Christian family for whom he worked and the revivalistic Shaker religion popular at the time.

Wovoka claimed that during an eclipse of the sun (Jan. 1, 1889) he had a vision in which God had given him a messagethe time was coming when the earth would die and come alive again; all whites would disappear from the earth's surface, and all native people, living and dead, would be reunited to live a life free from death, disease, and misery.

In order to bring this about, however, the Native Americans would have to follow Wovoka's doctrine of pacifism and practice the sacred dance he taught them.

To make his message more convincing, Wovoka proved his supernatural powers by simple tricks, one of which, the supposedly bulletproof ghost shirt, was to play a tragic part in the massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee.

Before long his stature grew from Paiute prophet to Messiah, and his religion, which spread rapidly through the western indigenous nations, took on warlike overtones never intended by its founder.

The great popularity of Wovoka's ghost dance waned, however, as his prophecy failed to materialize and as his converts were forced onto reservations.

See biography by Paul Bailey (1957, repr. 1970).


Ghost Dance


Central ritual of the messianic religion instituted in the late 19th cent. by a Paiute named Wovoka.

The religion prophesied the end of the westward expansion of whites and a return of the land to the Native Americans.

The ritual lasted five successive days, being danced each night and on the last night continued until morning.

Hypnotic trances and shaking accompanied this ceremony, which was supposed to be repeated every six weeks.

The dance originated among the Paiute c.1870; later, other Native Americans sent delegates to Wovoka to learn his teachings and ritual.

In a remarkably short time the religion spread to most of the Western Native Americans.

The ghost dance is chiefly significant because it was a central feature among the Sioux just prior to the massacre of hundreds of Sioux at Wounded Knee, S. Dak., in 1890.

The Sioux, wearing shirts called ghost shirts, believed they would be protected from the soldiers' bullets.




Native North Americans, whose language is thought to form a branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock.

The Kiowa, a nomadic people of the Plains area, had several distinctive traits, including a pictographic calendar and the worship of a stone image, the taimay.

In the 17th cent. they occupied W. Montana, but by about 1700 they had moved to an area S.E. of the Yellowstone River.

Here they came into contact with the Crow, who gave the Kiowa permission to settle in the Black Hills.

While living there, they acquired (c.1710) the horse, probably from the Crow.

Their trade was mainly with the Arikara, the Mandan and the Hidatsa.

After the invading Cheyenne and the Sioux drove the Kiowa from the Black Hills, they were forced to move south to Comanche territory; in 1790, after a bloody war, the Kiowa reached a permanent peace with the Comanche.

According to Lewis and Clark, the Kiowa were on the North Platte River in 1805, but not much later they occupied the Arkansas River region.

Later the Kiowa, who allied themselves with the Comanche, raided as far south as Durango, Mexico, attacking Mexicans, Texans, and Native Americans, principally the Navaho and the Osage.

In 1837 the Kiowa were forced to sign their first treaty, providing for the passage of Americans through Kiowa-Comanche land; the presence of settlers in increased numbers accelerated hostilities.

After 1840, when the Kiowa made peace with the Cheyenne, four groupsthe Kiowa, the Cheyenne, the Comanche and the Apache combined to fight the eastern tribes, who had migrated to Indian Territory.

This caused more hostility between Native Americans and the U.S. government, and U.S. forces finally defeated the confederacy and imposed the Treaty of Medicine Lodge (1867).

This confederated the Kiowa, the Comanche, and the Apache and provided that they should settle in Oklahoma.

However, parts of the Kiowa remained hostile until the mid-1870s.

Oncoming settlers, unaware of treaty rights, caused friction with the Kiowa, resulting in a series of minor outbreaks.

In 1874 the Kiowa were involved in a serious conflict, which was suppressed by the U.S. army.

American soldiers killed the horses of the Kiowa and the government deported the Kiowa leaders to Florida.

By 1879 most of them were settled on their present reservation in Oklahoma.

The Kiowa Apache, a small group of North American Native Americans traditionally associated with the Kiowa from the earliest times, now live with them on their reservation.

The Kiowa Apache retain their own language.

See R. H. Lowie, Societies of the Kiowa (1916); A. L. Marriott, Kiowa Years (1968); M. P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (rev. ed. 1972).




A small group of now extinct Native North Americans.

The name of the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (to which they belonged) is derived from their name.

They were among the first Native Americans with whom the French formed alliances and their name was used to designate other tribes in the area.

Despite French aid, they were dispersed in the 17th cent. by the Iroquois, and the remnants of the tribe found refuge chiefly near white settlements in Quebec and Ontario.

The name is also spelled Algonkin.




Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock.

When Father Jean Nicolet encountered them (1634) the Winnebago lived in E. Wisconsin, from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago.

Except for a war with the Illinois (1671) and one with the Ojibwa (1827), the Winnebago generally were peaceful toward their neighbors such as the Menominee, the Sac and Fox and the Ottawa.

The Winnebago traded with and were staunch supporters of, the French.

After the fall of French power, however, they allied themselves with the British; they fought against the colonists in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812.

The Winnebago clandestinely participated in the Black Hawk War (1832).

After numerous hardships and much loss of population the Winnebago were finally settled on reservations in Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Winnebago culture was of the Eastern Woodlands area with some Plains area traits.

Their many ceremonies were elaborate, the buffalo dance held in the spring and the winter feast.

See Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (1923, repr. 1970) and The Culture of the Winnebago (1949).


Red Eagle, William Weatherford




Native North American chief, b. present-day Alabama. He is also called Red Eagle.

In the War of 1812 he led the Creek war party, stirred by Tecumseh, against the Americans.

On Aug. 30, 1813, he attacked Fort Mims, a temporary stockade near the confluence of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers, where his warriors, refusing to heed his plea for restraint, massacred some 500 whites.

In the battle of Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River (March 27, 1814), Gen. Andrew Jackson completely broke the power of Weatherford and his nation.

Weatherford was pardoned by Jackson, who admired his courage and he lived peaceably in Alabama until his death.

See G. C. Eggleston, Red Eagle & the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama (1878).


Woodland Indians


An identified group of indigenous Americans to inhabit the Pocono region were the Eastern Woodlands Indians.

Archaeological digs date settlements as far back as 13,000 years ago.

These prehistoric people were the predecessors of those who called themselves Lenape or Lenni Lenape (original people).

The Lenape that the first European explorers and settlers met were of the Algonquin tradition.

During this period the Lenapes were under the authority and protection of the very forceful Iroquois, leaders of the League of Six Nations (encompassing the entire region in Pennsylvania and New York), which governed the region.

With the passage of time, the Lenape became known as Delawares as were the other groups in the region, including the Shawnee who appeared around the end of the 1600s.

Minsi and Munsee are also names given to the various people here. The name is derived from the dialect they spoke -- minsi or munsee.

Findings suggest most of the Delaware bands were not warlike.

For instance, most of the arrowheads found in early Woodland digs were for spears (hunting) rather than for bows and arrows (fighting), and they sported clubs rather than hatchets that started to appear after European contact.

More findings indicated that if Indians and Europeans accidentally got in one another's way, the Indians would move, change their hunting trails or find another place to build their towns.

Warlike activity was confined to raids on villages to recruit more people for their tribes to replace lost relatives.

Those captured became part of the family to which they had been delivered.

Of special note is that Indians were very respectful of women and even societies among the aggressive Iroquois were matriarchal.

The Delawares were farmers and hunters.

They lived in small towns based around longhouses (long huts, 25 feet in length, constructed of bent saplings for support and covered by thick layers of bark).

Longhouses were usually shared by several related families who were under a matriarch.

The land was considered open for everyone's use, though each band respected one another's tribal hunting grounds and farming land.

This concept of land entitlement eventually brought the Indians into conflict with the European settlers who only understood the concept of personal ownership.

In 1682 William Penn made an agreement with the Delawares for land that included Philadelphia, Chester and Bucks counties.

It was reported that in 1686 another treaty was agreed to, which provided that Penn or his descendants could have as much land, going northward, as a man could walk in one and one-half days.

This treaty was never found, though a supposed copy did show up in 1735 when Thomas Penn, son of William, decided he needed more land to sell.

Some of the language in this intended treaty conflicted with another Indian concept.

The Delawares, who were forced to agree to the "purchase" made by their Iroquois protectors, had a different notion of the meaning of the phrase "walk in one and one-half days" than the European owners seeking land.

For the Delawares, "walk" meant amble along, stop for a smoke, hunt a little, walk some more and any other similar action.

To the Penns, "walk" meant cover the most distance possible in one and one-half days.

They hired three professional walkers and rewarded the one who walked the farthest with a land bonus.

Among the "walkers" was Edward Marshall (Marshalls Creek), who "walked" (the Indians reported that he ran and his two companions collapsed along the way) from Wrightstown in Bucks County to Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), a distance of 65 miles!

With the Walking Purchase any trust and peaceful coexistence that was earlier established from the time of the original treaty with William Penn was now destroyed.

The deal was further demeaned by the last concept involved in the treaty.

The boundaries of the Walking Purchase were to be drawn in a straight line from the shopping point eastward to the Delaware River.

To the Delawares, "east" meant due east. To Penn's men, "east" meant northeast.

Based on the Delawares' understanding of the concept of "east" the line should have been drawn from Jim Thorpe to somewhere in the vicinity of the present-day town of Delaware Water Gap.

Penn's understanding of east allowed them to draw the line to the mouth of the Lackawaxen River where it meets the Delaware River, going northeast.

The territory included in the "purchase" encompassed what is today practically the entire Poconos region, or approximately three times more land than the Delawares thought they agreed to in the Walking Purchase, and area that constituted all of the hunting, fishing and farming land of his Indian tribe.

Feeling cheated, the Delawares appealed to their Iroquois protectors. But they had made a mistake by complaining to Penn's men and the governor, who in turn also had complained to the Iroquois.

And since the Iroquois had pledged to work with the settlers, they ordered the Delaware and Shawnee Indians off the land.

For five years the Delawares fought the expulsion through writings, meetings and even court hearings.

For a time the Penns allowed them to stay on the land they had been occupying.

A Christian chief named Tatami, specifically was allowed to remain. However, demands for land grew, and after a five-year transition period, the Penns told the Delawares at a meeting in Philadelphia on July 10, 1742, that they would have to leave.

The Iroquois chief, Canassatego, was present at the meeting to represent his people, whose power was based on their status as leaders of the Six Nations.

At the meeting Canassatego went along with the Penns that the Delawares had to leave (For the record it is noted that in 1749 the Penns paid the Iroquois 500 English pounds for a wide strip of land the Penns had already "purchased" from the Delawares.).

Eighteen years after the infamous Walking Purchase, the Delawares finally struck back.

Under the leadership of Delaware chief, Teedyuscung (converted to Christianity by the Moravians) and supported by the French who were fighting the British in the French and Indian War, they attacked.

The first attack, on November 24, 1755, was directed against the Moravians who had established a mission at Gnadenhuetten ("tents of mercy") and who reportedly supported the Indians entirely.

Teedyuscung, who had been baptized by the Moravians five years earlier, reportedly did not take part in that attack.

With Gnadenhuetten as a first strike initiative, the Delawares staged a furious assault against the settlers, reportedly killing them and burning settlement after settlement, but limited to the area of the Walking Purchase.

Wars were waged by Indians and Europeans alike and atrocities were committed on both sides.

In 1756, '57 and '58, meetings were held to try and end the feuding.

With some Quaker support Teedyuscung reportedly attended the meetings with the Colonists.

In speech after speech, he defended their cause to the governor in Philadelphia.

Quakers urged Teedyuscung to have all proceedings journalized to prevent another "agreement" like the one that precipitated the Walking Purchase problem - the missing original 1686 treaty with William Penn.

He pleaded to no avail and the Delawares were ordered to themselves to Shamokin and Wyoming, Pennsylvania.

Teedyuscung died in a house fire in 1763 during the years of tension-filled peace that followed the 1758 removal of the Delawares.

The tenuous peace was interrupted when the Iroquois joined forces with the British against the Colonists in the Revolutionary War.

The Indians used the Revolutionary War to reopen their attack on the Colonists and the Pennsylvania Indian Wars began again for a short time.

The Colonial Army could not reliably help the settlers, who had crowded into Fort Penn, the fort controlled by Jacob Stroud in Stroudsburg. In 1778, General George Washington sent the Continental Army, under the direction of General John Sullivan, to march through the area to restore peace.

The company of 2,500 men marched from Easton through the Susquehanna Valley into New York State, reportedly destroying every Indian Village, sanctuary and means of livelihood they encountered.

The army engaged few Indians in battle.

Finally, the march was completed and Sullivan's army was disbanded.

Attacks resumed and continued until the Peace of Paris treaty, which ended the Revolutionary War in 1783.

At that time, the British ordered their frontiersmen to stop paying the Indians to attack the Colonists.

General Washington for his part banned all attacks on Indians in the area.

All the wars ended and there was peace, but with few Native Americans in the area.