Summary of Native American Tribes – C

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Caddo Indian Nation Flag

Caddo – The modern Caddo people are the descendants of many different tribes that once inhabited Louisiana, southern Arkansas and coastal Texas as far west as the Brazos River. When the Texans plotted to exterminate them in 1859, they fled to Indian Territory. Many sided with the Union when the Civil War began and fled to Kansas. Today the more than 1,200 Caddo share joint control of small parcels of tribal lands in Oklahoma with the Delaware and Wichita nations around the areas of Fort Cobb and Fort El Reno. See Caddo Nation for more.


Cahokia  – A tribe of the Illinois confederacy, they were usually noted as associated with the Tamaroa tribe. Like all the confederate Illinois tribes, they were of roving habit until they and the Tamaroa were gathered into a mission settlement about the year 1698 by the Jesuit Pinet. This mission, first known as Tamaroa, but later as Cahokia, was near the site of present-day Cahokia, Illinois on the east bank of the Mississippi River, nearly opposite the present St. Louis, Missouri.  In 1721 it was the second town among the Illinois in importance. On the withdrawal of the Jesuits the tribe declined rapidly, chiefly from the demoralizing influence of the neighboring French garrison, and was nearly extinct by 1800. With the other remnant tribes of the confederacy they moved westward about 1820. The whole body is now officially consolidated under the name Peoria.

Another earlier tribe, also referred to as Cahokians, built one of the largest man-made earthen structures in America, as well as a large city. Referred to today, as the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, it was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. Built by ancient peoples known as the Mound Builders, the city’s original population was thought to have been only about 1,000 until about the 11th century when it dramatically expanded. At its peak from 1,100 to 1,200 A.D., the city covered nearly six square miles and boasted a population of as many as 100,000.


Cahuilla – Uto-Aztecan peoples who arrived in southern California about 2,000-2,500 years ago. They originally ranged over the entire San Bernardino Basin, the San Jacinto Mountains, the Coachella Valley, and portions of the southern Mojave Desert. Living in independent clans of approximately 600-800 people, each clan controlled their own separate territories. These peaceful hunter-gatherers used throwing sticks, clubs, nets, spring-poled snares, and often poison-tipped arrows to provide game for their clans. The tribe did not encounter Europeans until 1774, when Spanish explorer, Juan Bautista de Anza was looking for a trade route between Mexico and California. Living far inland, the Cahuilla had little contact with Spanish soldiers or priests, nor missionaries. During the Mexican-American War, the Cahuilla  join the Californios, and in the treaty to end the war, the government promised to recognize Native American rights to inhabit certain lands. However, white settlement on Indian lands became an increasing problem after the US annexed California, especially after gold was discovered. When the California Senate refused to ratify an 1852 treaty granting the Cahuilla control of their lands, tribal leaders resorted to attacks on approaching settlers and soldiers. In the end, the U.S. government subdivided their lands into reservations in 1877. Today there are nine Southern California reservations that are acknowledged homes to bands of Cahuilla people. These are located in Imperial, Riverside and San Diego Counties.


Cajuenche – A Yuman tribe speaking the Cocopa dialect, who resided on the east bank of the Colorado River, below the mouth of the Gila River in the late 1700’s. Their villages also extended into south central California. At that time, they were said to have numbered about 3,000 and were bitter enemies of the Cocopa tribe. Later, they disappeared, thought to have been due to constant wars with the Yuma.


Calapooya – A division of the Kalapooian family that formerly occupied the watershed between Willamette and Umpqua Rivers in Oregon. The term “Calapooya,” has long been used to include all the bands speaking dialects of the Kalapooian language and is made synonymous with the family name. This double use of the term, coupled with the scanty information regarding the division, brought much confusion in the classification of the bands.


Callam – Their name meaning “strong people,” the Callam were a Salish tribe living on the south side of Puget Sound, Washington, extending from Port Discovery to the Hoko River. Later, they occupied Chimakum territory and established a village at Port Townsend. A comparatively small number found their way across to the south end of Vancouver Island and there was a large village on Victoria Harbor. They were said to be more closely related to the Songish than to any other tribe. By the mid 1800’s, many had merged on to the Puyallup Reservation in Washington.


Calusa – An important tribe of Florida, they formerly held the southwest coast from about Tampa Bay to Cape Sable and Cape Florida, together with all the outlying keys, and extending inland to Lake Okeechobee. They also claimed authority over the tribes of the east coast, north to about Cape Canaveral. They were farmers to a limited extent, but were better noted as expert fishers, daring seamen, and fierce and determined fighters, keeping up their resistance to the Spanish arms and missionary advances after all the rest of Florida had submitted. They practiced human sacrifice of captives, scalped and dismembered their slain enemies, and were repeatedly accused of being cannibals. They first encountered Europeans in 1513 when, with a fleet of 80 canoes they boldly attacked Ponce de León, who was about to land on their coast, and after an all-day fight compelled their enemy to withdraw. Even at this early date they were already noted among the tribes for the golden wealth which they had accumulated from the numerous Spanish wrecks cast away upon the Keys in passage from the south. Two centuries later they were regarded as veritable pirates, plundering and killing without mercy the crews of all vessels, excepting the Spanish, so unfortunate as to be stranded in their neighborhood.

In 1567 the Spaniards established a mission and fortified post among them, but both seem to have been discontinued soon after, although the tribe came later under Spanish influence. About this time, they numbered nearly 50 villages, from one of which the city of Tampa takes its name. By the year 1600, they were carrying on regular trade with Havana, Cuba.

By the constant invasions of the Creek and other Indian allies of the English, they were driven from the mainland and forced to take refuge on the Florida Keys. More were evacuated to Cuba, where many of them died. When Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in 1763, the last remnants of the tribes of south Florida to Cuba. Those few that remained on the mainland were absorbed into the Seminole tribe; however, their language and culture survived up to the close of the second Seminole war.


Canarsee – Formerly one of the leading tribes on Long Island, New York, the tribe once occupied most of what is now Kings County and the shores of Jamaica Bay. At the time of the Dutch settlement of New York, they were apparently paying tribute to the Irquois. They were also at war with the Mohawk, from whom they had asserted their independence. However, after the Dutch settled on the island, the Mohawk attacked them again and nearly exterminated them. They also suffered considerably during the war of the Long Island tribes with the Dutch. The city of Brooklyn was obtained from them. The last known survivor of the tribe died about 1800.

Summaries:  A  B  C  D  E-I  J-K  L-M  N  O  P  Q-R  S  T-V  W  X-Z

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