A family of North American Indians, comprising two large divisions, one living in the British Possessions, between Hudson’s Bay and the Pacific, and the other along the southern boundary of the United States, in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, with some smaller bands along the western coast, north of Oregon.

The name of the family is derived from Lake Athabasca, a Cree word, meaning “cords of hay.” They are supposed by many to be of Tartar descent, and their language has been found to be somewhat analogous to that of Thibet. Their traditions point to an emigration from the West, over a series of islands, and amid much snow and ice. The southern branch includes the nomadic Apaches, the industrious Navajos, and a small remnant of Lipan in Texas, numbering, in all, over 20,000.