Enter a grandparent's name to get started.
The citizen Indians are scattered over 44 states and 5 territories, as shown by the tables in this introduction, and are employed in various pursuits.
As a rule the modern Mississippi valley, western, and Pacific coast Indians can be easily accounted for. The settlement of those regions by whites is large numbers is recent, and a fairly good record of the whereabouts of the several tribes of Indians known has been kept.
The Six Nations of New York and The Five Civilized Tribes of Indian territory are not citizens of the United States.
Locations and Stocks of Indian Tribes at Several Dates
During the, early settlement of the Atlantic coast and of the South Pacific coast the Europeans were led to believe by the natives that the interior of the present United States teemed with an aggressive, enterprising, and ingenious aboriginal population. Based upon these stories estimates of Indian population were made and names of tribes given which had only imagination for authority. Many early European writers chronicled these legends as facts. Investigation shows that the aboriginal population within the present United States at the beginning of the Columbian period could not have exceeded much over 500,000, that portions of families or stocks of Indians were given as original tribes, and that many small bands of the same tribe were given as separate tribes.
Probably no Indian tribe in the lists given bears its own name. The tribes are generally known by names given them by white people. This is one of the most singular facts in history. Indian tribes have within themselves several names, just as individual Indians have frequently half a dozen names; some have signed treaties with several names. Prior to colonial times, the lists of names of Indian tribes were kept by the foreign nations who had control and by missionaries. In colonial times the lists of names were kept by the local or colonial authorities. Just prior to and during the Revolutionary war officers of the army kept them. In 1812-1813, and after the publication of the report of Lewis and Clarke’s expedition, a list of the tribes (some 86) these explorers had met along the Missouri and Yellowstone and branches and the Columbia and its waters was prepared by them. Other explorers, traders, and hunters had made lists also, but they were generally partial and incomplete. The lists were kept in the office of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, War Department, from 1813 to 1849, when the Indians passed under the control of the Home or Interior Department.
Indians North and West of Virginia, in 1782
The following, furnished by Mr. Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress, and published in Mr. Thomas Jefferson’s “Notes on Virginia”, 1782, seems to be an epitome of the knowledge then possessed by publicists as to the Indians in the region of country lying north and west of Virginia:
As far as I have been able to learn the country from the seacoast to the Alleghany and from the most southern waters of the James River up to Petuxen River, now in the state of Maryland, was occupied by three nations of Indians, each of which spoke a different language, and were under separate and distinct government. What the original or real names of those nations were I have not been aide to learn with certainty; but by us they are distinguished by the names of Powhatans, Mannahocs and Minancans, now commonly called Tuscaroras. The Powhatans, who occupied the country from the seashore up to the falls of the river, were a powerful nation, and seem to have consisted of seven tribes, five on the western and two on the eastern shore. Each of these tribes was subdivided into towns, families or clans, who lived together. All the nations of Indians in North America lived in the hunter state and depended for subsistence on hunting, fishing, and the spontaneous fruits of the earth, and a kind of grain which was planted and gathered by the women, and is now known by the mime of Indian corn. Long potatoes, pumpkins or various kinds, and squashes were also found in use among them. They had no flocks, herds, or tamed animals of any kind. Their government is a kind of patriarchal confederacy. Every town or family has a chief, who is distinguished by to particular title, and whom we commonly call “sachem”. The several towns or families that compose a tribe have a chief who preside over it, and the several tribes composing a nation have a chief who presides over the whole nation. These chiefs are generally men advanced in years, and distinguished by their prudence and abilities in council. The matters which merely regard a town or family are settled by the chief and principal man of the town; those which regard a tribe, such as the appointment of head warriors or captains and settling differences between different towns and families, are regulated at a meting or council of the elders from the several towns; and those which the whole nation, such as the making war, concluding peace, or forming alliances with the neighboring nations, are deliberated on and determined in a national commit composed of the chiefs of the tribe, attended by head warriors and a number of the chiefs from the towns, who are his counselors. In every town there is a council house where the elder and old men of the town assemble when occasion requires, and commit what is proper to be done. Every tribe has a fixed place for the chiefs of the town to moot and consult on the business of the tribe, and in every nation there is what they call the central counsel house, or central council fire, where the chiefs of the several tribes, with the principal warriors, convene to consult and determine on their national affairs. When any matter is proposed in the national council it is common for the chiefs of the several tribes to consult thereon apart with their counselors, and when they have agreed, to deliver the opinion of the tribe at the national council, and its their government seems to rest wholly on persuasion, they endeavor, by mutual concessions, to obtain unanimity. Such is the government that still subsists among the, Indian nations bordering on the United States. Some historians seem to think that the dignity of office of sachem was hereditary but that opinion does not appear to be well founded, The sachem or chief of the tribe seems to be by election; and sometimes persons who are strangers and adopted into the tribe are promoted to this dignity on account of their abilities. Thus, on the arrival of Captain Smith, the first founder of the colony of Virginia, Opechanganough, who was sachem or chief of the Chickahominies, one of the tribes of the Powhatans, is said to have been of another tribe, and. even of another nation, so that no certain account could be obtained of his origin or descent. The chiefs of the nation seem to have been by a rotation among the tribes; thus, when Captain Smith, in the year 1609, questioned. Powhatan (who was the chief of the nation, and whose proper name is said to have been Wohunsonacock) respecting the succession, the old chief informed hint “that he was very old, and had seen the death of all his people thrice; not one of these generations was then living except himself; that he must, soon die, and the succession descend in order to his brothers, Opichapan, Opechaneanough, and Catataugh, and then to his two sisters and their two daughters”. But those were appellations designating the tribes in the confederacy, for the persons named are not his real brothers, but the chiefs of different tribes, Accordingly, in 1618, when Powhatan died, he was succeeded by Opichapan, and after his decease Opechaneanough became chief of the nation. I need only mention another instance to show that the chiefs of the nation claimed this kindred with the head of the nation, in 1622, when Raleigh Crashaw was with Japazaw, the sachem or chief of the Patowmacs, Opechaucanough, who had great power and influence, being the second man in the nation and next in succession to Opichapan, and who was a bitter but secret enemy to the English and wanted to engage the nation in a war with them, sent two baskets of beads to the Patowmac chief, and desired him to kill the Englishmen that were with him. Japazaw replied that the English were his friends and Opichapan his brother, and that therefore there should be no blood shed between them by his means. It is also to be observed, that when the English first came over, in all their conferences with any of the chiefs, they constantly heard him make mention of his brother, with whom he must consult or to whom he referred them, meaning thereby either the chief of the nation or the tribes in confederacy. The Manahoacs are said to have been a confederacy of four tribes, and in alliance with the Monacans in the war which they were carrying out against the Powhatans.
To the northward of these there was another powerful nation, which occupied the country from the head of the Chesapeake Bay up to the Kittatinney Mountain, and as far eastward as Connecticut River, comprehending that part of New York which lies between the Highlands and the ocean, all the state of New Jersey, that part of Pennsylvania, which is watered below the range of the Kittatinney Mountains by the rivers or streams falling into the Delaware, and the county of Newcastle in the state of Delaware, as far as Duck Creek. It is to be observed that the nations of Indians distinguished their countries one from another by natural boundaries, such is ranges of mountains or streams of water; but as the heads of rivers frequently interlock or approach near to each other, and those who live upon a stream claim the country watered by it, they often encroached on each other, and this is a constant source of war between the different nations. The nation occupying the tract of country last described called themselves Lenopi; the French writers call them Loups; and among the English they are now commonly called Delaware. This nation or confederacy consisted of five tribes, who all spoke one language:
- The Chihohocki, who dwelt on the west side of the river now called Delaware, a name which it took from Lord De la War, who put into it on his passage from Virginia., but which by the Indians was called Chihohocki;
- The Wanami, who inhabit the country called Now Jersey, from the Rariton to the sea;
- The Munsey, who dwelt on the upper streams of the Delaware, from the Kittatinney Mountains down to the Lehigh or western branch of the Delaware;
- The Wabinga, who are sometimes called River Indians, sometimes Mohickanders, who had their dwelling between the west branch or Delaware and Hudson River, from the Kittatinney Ridge down to the Rariton; and
- The Mehiccon, or Mahattlon, who occupied Staten Island, York Island (which, from its being the principal seat of their residence, was formerly called Mahatton), Long Island, and that part of New York and Connecticut which lies between Hudson and Connecticut Rivers, from the highland, which is a continuation of the Kittatinney Ridge down to the sound. This nation had a close alliance with the Shawanese, who lived on the Susquehanna and to the westward of that river, as far as the Allegheny Mountains, and carried on a long war with another powerful nation or confederacy of Indians which lived to the north of them, between the Kittatinney Mountains or Highlands and the lake Ontario, lied who called themselves Mingos, and are called by the French writers Iroquois, by the English the Five Nations, and by the Indiums to the southward, with whom they were at war, Massawonacs,
This war was carrying on in its greatest fury when Captain Smith first arrived in Virginia. The Mingo warriors had penetrated down the Susquehanna to the mouth of it. In one of his excursions up the bay, at the mouth of Susquehanna, in 1608, Captain Smith met with six or seven of their canoes full of warriors, who were coining to attack their enemies in the rear. In an excursion which he had made a few weeks before up the Rappahannock, and in which he had [had] a skirmish with a party of the Manahoacs and taken a brother of one of their chiefs prisoner, he first heard of this nation; for when he asked the prisoner why his nation attacked the English, the prisoner said because his nation had heard that the English came from under the world to take their world from them. Being asked how many worlds he know, he said he knew but one, which was under the sky that covered him, and which consisted of Powhatans, the Manakins, and the Massawonacs. Being questioned concerning the latter, he said they dwelt on a great water to the north; that they had many boats; and so many men that they waged [war] with all the rest of the world. The Mingo confederacy then consisted of five tribes; three, who are the elder, to wit, the Senecas, who live to the west; the Mohawks, to the east; and the Onondagas between them; and two who are called the younger tribes, namely, the Cayugas and Oneidas, All of these tribes speak one language, and were then united in a close confederacy, and occupied the tract of country from the east end of Lake Eric to Lake Champlain, and from the Kittatinney and Highlands to the lake Ontario and the river Cadaraqui, or St. Laurence. They had some time before that carried on a war with a nation who lived beyond the lakes and were called Adirondacs. In this war they were worsted; but having made a peace with them, through the intercession with the French who were then settling Canada, they turned their arms against the Lenopi; and as the war was long and doubtful, they, in the course of it, not only exerted their whole force; but put into practice every measure which prudence or policy could devise to bring it to a successful issue. For this purpose they bent their course down the Susquehanna, and warring with the Indians in their way, and having penetrated as far as the mouth of it, they, by the terror of their arms, engaged a nation now known by the name of Nanticocks, Conoys, and Tuteloes, who lived between Chesapeake and Delaware Bays and bordering on the tribe of Chihohocki, to enter into an alliance with them. They also formed an alliance with the Monacans and stimulated them to a war with the Lenopi and their confederates. At the same time the Mohawks carried on a furious war down the Hudson, against the Mehiccon and River Indians, and compelled them to purchase it temporary and precarious peace, by acknowledging them to be their superiors and paying an annual tribute. The Lenopi being surrounded with enemies and hard pressed, and having lost many of their warriors, were at last compelled to sue for peace, which was granted them on the condition that they should put themselves under the protection of the Mingos, confine themselves to raising corn, hunting for the subsistence of their families, and no longer have the power of making war. This is what the Indians call making them women; and in this condition the Lenopis were when William Penn first arrived and. began the settlement of Pennsylvania in 1682.
The Oswegatchies, Connosedagos, and Cohunnegagoes, or, as they are commonly called, Caghnewagos, are of the Mingo or Six Nation Indians, who, by the influence of the French missionaries, have been separated from their nation and induced to settle there,
I do not know of what nation the Augquagahs are, but suspect they are a family of the Senecas.
The Nanticocks and Conoies were formerly of a nation that lived at the head of Chesapeake Bay, and who of late years have been adopted into the Mingo or Iroquois confederacy, and make a seventh nation, the Monacans or Tuscaroras, who were taken into the confederacy in 1712, making the sixth.
The Saponies are families of the Wanamies, who removed from New Jersey, and, with the Mohiccons, Munsies, and Delawares, belong to the Lenopi nation. The Mingos are a war colony from the Six Nations; so are the Cohnnuegagos. Of the rest of the northern tribes, I have never been able to learn anything certain; but all accounts seem to agree in this: that there is a very powerful nation, distinguished by a variety of names taken from the several towns or families, but commonly called Tawas or Outawas, who speak one language and live round and on the waters that fall into the western lakes, and extend from the waters of the Ohio quite to the waters falling into Hudson bay.