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Introduction Indian Tribes of North America

Introduction Indian Tribes of North America

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Published by: The Seeker Of All on Aug 08, 2009
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Introduction Indian Tribes of North America
From the date of its first appearance in 1891 the Powell map of "Linguistic Families of American Indians North of Mexico" has proved of the widest utility. It has been reissuedseveral times and copied into numerous publications. There has, however, been almostequal need of a map giving the location of the tribes under the several families.To one familiar from his readings in early American history with the names and locationsof our prominent eastern "tribes," such as the Delaware, Iroquois, Cherokee, andChoctaw, the preparation of a tribal map would seem to be simple, and it would indeed beso if all Indians had been grouped into bodies as clearly marked as those mentioned. Buteven in the eastern United States the term "tribe" is quickly found to have no uniformapplication. The Creeks were a confederation of a few dominant tribes and a number of subordinate bodies, each formerly independent. The name "Delaware" is commonly saidto have covered three tribes or sub-tribes, but while two of these seem never to have beenindependent of each other, the third, the Munsee, is often treated as if it were entirelyseparate. The name "Powhatan" was applied to about 30 tribes or sub-tribes which had been brought together by conquest only a few years before Virginia was settled, and theterm "Chippewa," or "Ojibwa," is used for a multitude of small bands with little claim toany sort of governmental unity. In the case of the Iroquois, on the other hand, the tribewas only a part of the governmental unit, the Iroquois Confederation, or Longhouse.The northern Plains tribes present a certain coherence but farther south and west our difficulties multiply. An early explorer in Texas states that in that region, by "nation" wasto be understood only a single town or perhaps a few neighboring villages, and in fact thenumber of tribal names reported from this section seems almost endless. In thegovernmental sense, each Pueblo community was a tribe, and if we were to attempt acomplete list we should have in the first place a large number of existing, or at leastrecently existing, tribes, little and big, and a still greater number known only through theearly writers or by tradition. In California, Kroeber (1925) states that there were no tribesin the strict sense of the term except among the Yokuts of the San Joaquin Valley andtheir immediate neighbors. Elsewhere in California, and in western Oregon andWashington as well, tribe and town might be considered convertible terms. As the number of these was continually shifting, it would be impracticable to enter them in that capacityin a work of the present kind. North of the International Boundary, conditions are, if possible, worse, except in thesouthernmost section of Canada where lived tribes similar to those in the eastern parts of the United States, such as the Huron, Chippewa, Assiniboin, and Blackfoot, though theChippewa, as already mentioned, require a somewhat elastic extension of our commonconcept of a tribe. On the north Pacific coast, however, the conditions noted in westernOregon and Washington are continued. We have numerous local groups associated intoseveral major divisions on linguistic grounds alone. Still farther north and east, among
the Algonquians, Athapascans, and Eskimo, we are confronted with a bewildering arrayof bands and local groups, usually confined to one town and taking their name from it or from a certain territory over which its members hunted, and the numbers and names of these are uncertain even at the present time. Nothing remotely resembling scientificaccuracy is possible in placing these bands, if we aim at chronological uniformity, and wemust either enter great linguistic groups, embracing sometimes almost an entire stock, or make an arbitrary selection of bands with the idea of including those which we esteemthe most important. Northeastern México and some parts of Central America may also be defined as bandareas, but most of North America below the Río Grande was occupied by well-recognizedtribal divisions. From all of the West Indies except Haiti, Cuba, and Puerto Rico nothinglike a complete list of tribes has survived, and even for the best documented of these,Haiti, it is impossible to say how many of the caciquedoms mentioned should be giventribal status.A short study of the conditions above outlined shows that only two alternatives are openin a work like the present. Either one must, in effect, alter it to a town and band map,entering the most minute recorded subdivisions and setting his results forth, not on onemap but on dozens, or he must be satisfied with a relatively conventional classification,having in view popular convenience rather than scientific uniformity, and making the bestgrouping he can of those peoples which did not have real tribal organizations. In the present undertaking the latter plan has been followed, but clues to the more scientificstudy have been given by including lists of "subdivisions" and "villages." There is no profession that these lists are complete; a perfect presentation of them would demand aninvestigation for which there is as yet no opportunity. The rest of the accompanying texthas been devoted to certain items of information likely to be called for first by the generalreader, including: the origin of the tribal name and a brief list of the more importantsynonyms, the linguistic connections of the tribe--it has not seemed feasible to try toinclude the physical and cultural connections--its location, a brief sketch of its history, itsestimated and actual population at different periods (based mainly on Mooney's (1928)study and the reports of the United States and Canadian Indian Offices), and the"connection in which it has become noted," particularly the extent to which its name has been perpetuated geographically or otherwise. I have also included references to the moreimportant sources of information. Two works have been used as basal authorities. One,the Handbook of American Indians (Hodge, 1907, 1910), is general in scope and may beassumed throughout except for the tribes of México, Central America, and the WestIndies. The other, Kroeber's Handbook of the Indians of California (1925), is the basalauthority used in treating the Indian groups of that State. In the Gulf area I have utilizedthe results of my own studies, published and unpublished.As far as possible each tribe, or group has been treated by itself, but in Washington,Oregon, California, and Alaska, to avoid needless repetition, the history of the tribes isconsidered as a whole. The section on México, Central America, and the West Indiesrepresents an afterthought. Both map and text material were drawn originally from the"Indian Languages of Mexico and Central America" ( Thomas and Swanton, 1911), and
Dr. Lehmann's (1920) monumental work on "Zentral Amerikas," but they have beenmade over thoroughly in the light of the classification and map of Dr. J. Alden Mason(1940) and Frederick Johnson (1940), and no attempt has been made to take up thehistory of the several tribes or indicate other authorities.A brief history of the present undertaking will perhaps enable the reader to obtain a better understanding of it, appreciate the difficulties encountered in the compilation, and inconsequence view its short comings, of which as the compiler I am keenly aware, withdue charity. It represents an evolution both in method of procedure and in the extent of territory covered. In the beginning I was governed by the older tradition regarding mapwork of the kind, the idea of entering a tribe in the place where it was first encountered by Whites, but an attempt to carry out this plan soon presented difficulties becauseneighboring tribes were often encountered a century or more apart and their relative positions may have changed utterly in the interval. There is no certainty, for instance, thatthe Indians outside of the narrow strip of territory opened to our vision by De Soto's armyin 1539-43 were in the same relative position when Carolina was settled about 1670 andLouisiana in 1699. It is particularly to be noted that, while De Soto found easternArkansas full of towns, it was almost deserted when Marquette and La Salle visited it in1673 and 1682. We also know that great alterations took place in the St. Lawrence Valley between the voyages of Cartier in 1534-43 and Champlain's appearance there in 1603.In view of these difficulties, I gave up this plan and tried the device of putting each tribein the region with which it was most closely associated historically. But with what regionwere the Shawnee, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche, and some other tribes mostclosely associated? The Middle West or the Plains are rather too general terms. Moreover,tribes acquired this close association with certain sections at very different periods and, if this plan were carried out, the map as a whole would be historically inaccurate. Thus theDelaware upon the whole were associated most closely with the valley of the river which bears their name, but when the Foxes had reached Iowa and the Dakota had occupiedSouth Dakota, where they are best known, the Delaware had removed many hundredmiles from this region. The Abnaki were most closely associated with western Maine butwere uprooted in the middle of the eighteenth century and moved to Canada. The Huronare most closely connected historically with the region of Lake Simcoe, Ontario, but theywere driven from there in the middle of the seventeenth century, and a hundred years later under the name Wyandot they, or at least part of them, came to be "closely associated"with Ohio. Thus we have here two associations of the same tribe.For a time it seemed as if some of these inconsistencies were un avoidable and that anyattempt at chronological accuracy was out of the question. Such is indeed the case if weinsist upon absolute, documented accuracy, because Alaska, western Canada, and thenorthwestern part of the United States were almost wholly unknown until the latter half of the eighteenth century and there is no authentic information regarding many tribesuntil the beginning of the nineteenth when many eastern tribes, and some of those on thePlains, had been displaced or destroyed. But on experimenting along this line Idiscovered that if we select the year 1650, or rather a few years prior to that date andassume a fairly static condition for 30 or 40 years afterward, we can determine the

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alfredadoonkeen added this note
I enjoyed your hypothesis on tribal and band member linguistics, however I was 'scattered' about what you were trying to accomplish in your hypothesis. Share with me what I may have overlooked or missed from your intent.
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