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What Are the Different Types of Native American Tribes?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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The term “Native American” refers to the people who are indigenous to North America, and individuals who lived in North America long before European explorers invaded the territory. The people who were native to North America were not a single group, however, and various groups, or tribes, had specific ways of life and generally inhabited specific areas. Examples of Native American tribes include the Tuskegee, Cheyenne, and Arapaho.

The Tuskegee is one of the tribes collectively known as Muskogean. Documentation suggests that this tribe moved around throughout history, but their movement seems to have been confined largely to the area that is now known as Alabama. They were eventually forced to move to Oklahoma.

The Apalachee is another of the Native American tribes that belongs to the Muskogean group. This tribe, which was native to Florida, was noted among other things for its size. Their fate was rewritten by both European and Native American forces, first when the Spanish forced them into mission towns, and then when the British influenced two other tribes, the Creeks and the Yuchi, to attack and nearly destroy them.

The Arapaho are an example of the Native American tribes that are part of Oklahoma’s history. The origins of the Arapaho remain unknown, but some theories suggest they may have descended from Canada. They were Algonkian speaking Native Americans who maintained alliance with the Cheyenne, but who were generally adversaries of the Shoshone, Ute, and Pawnee. In 1861, the Arapaho signed a treaty with the United States (US) resulting in the southern part of the tribe being assigned lands in what is now Oklahoma and the northern part of the tribe being assigned land in what is now Wyoming.

The Cheyenne are also Algonkian speaking people. This tribe’s roots were traced to an area between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. History reveals that at one point the Cheyenne were a stationary tribe, but they became nomadic, like the Arapaho, by force. This tribe had a notable alliance with the Sioux that was often used in war against the whites. This included the historic Battle of Little Bighorn, in which the Teton Sioux and the Cheyenne fought against the US Army to protect their hunting grounds.

Many people are acquainted with the term “Sioux,” but it is important to note, however, that this name does not refer to a single tribe. Rather, it refers to seven closely related tribes that were found by explorers on the land that is now Minnesota: the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, Sisitownan, Yankton, Yanktonai, and Teton.

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Discussion Comments
By Qohe1et — On Jan 21, 2011

Many Native Americans have intermarried with African Americans. Many African Americans are therefore more American than European Americans. They can trace their ancestry to local tribes. African slaves were brought over to the states due to the inability of Natives to withstand the European pandemic of smallpox. Africans did not have this problem, and through intermarrying with African slaves, many of the Natives survived.

By Armas1313 — On Jan 20, 2011


This tendency seems to be exhibited most clearly in the European tendency to label all Natives as "Indians," when in fact, Indians live on the other side of the world and are a world of difference from Native Americans. The equivalent would be to have Native Americans discover Europe and call all the Europeans "Chinese."

By hangugeo112 — On Jan 19, 2011

Native American languages have influenced various landmark names and state names in the US today. The native populations of England, the Britons, also left their mark on elements in the town names of that island. It is interesting that the longest surviving relics of ancient languages tend to be common names of areas.

By BigBloom — On Jan 18, 2011

The out-group homogeneity bias is a common cognitive bias in which people tend to think that members of a different people group are all the same. Because of this bias, Europeans tend to think that all Asians are simply Asian, and not recognize the various countries they are from. This is also the case with white American perception of Native Americans, and can be offensive. It is important to recognize the difference between people of varying cultures. No Italian would enjoy being called German, for instance. A person's individual tribe is important to them.

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