Summary of Native American Tribes – C

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Congaree – A small tribe, supposed to be Siouan, who formerly lived in South Carolina. In 1693 the Cherokee complained that the Shawnee, Catawba, and Congaree took prisoners from among them and sold them as slaves in Charleston. In 1701 they were found on the northeast bank of Santee River below the junction of the Wateree. However, on a 1715 map of 1715 they were placed on the south bank of Congaree River, about opposite the site of Columbia. A fort bearing the tribal name was established near the village in 1718. They were a small tribe, having lost many by tribal feuds but, more by smallpox. The Congaree, like their neighbors, took part in the Yamasi War in 1715, as a result of which they were so reduced that they were compelled to move up the country and join the Catawba, with whom they were still living in 1743.

Conoy – An Algonquian tribe, related to the Delaware, from whose ancestral stem they apparently sprang. But, their closest relations were with the Nanticoke, with whom it is probable they were in late prehistoric times united, the two forming a single tribe. Their language is supposed to have been somewhat closely allied to that spoken in Virginia by the Powhatan. The Conoy were a sedentary hunter-farmer tribe who lived between the Potomac River and the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In 1670, they were devasted by a smallpox epidemic. Most confederated with other tribes as a result of white settlement. Their descendants today number about 200 and belong to the Maryland Indian Heritage Society, Piscataway Conoy Confederacy, and the Piscataway Indian Nation.

Coos – When first encountered there were 40-50 villages in the Coos tribes situated around the Coos Bay and North Bend area of Oregon. Most of them were hunters, fishermen, and gatherers. Today, they are one of the three Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians living on the southwest Oregon Pacific coast. The Coos language is nearly extinct.

Copalis – Belonged to the coastal division of the Salishan linguistic family, they lived on the Copalis River and the Pacific Coast between the mouth of Joe Creek and Grays Harbor of Washington. Lewis and Clark estimated them as numbering about 200 in 1805. Though their name has been perpetuated in that of the Copalis River and Copalis Beach, the tribe itself is long gone.

Coree – Possibly Algonquian, the Coree formerly occupied the peninsulas of Neuse River, in Carteret and Craven Counties of North Carolina. They were described early on as having been a bloody and barbarous people and by 1696 were greatly reduced in a war with another tribe. They were living in two villages in 1701 and numbered about 125. However, they engaged in the Tuscarora War of 1711, and in 1715 the remnants of the Coree and Machapunga were assigned a tract on Mattamuskeet Lake in North Carolina, where they lived in one village until they became extinct.

Costanoan – See Ohlone.

Coushatta, aka: Koasati – A Muscogean tribe of the southern United States. They, along with other Muscogean speaking tribes, the Creek, Hitchiti, and Alabama, formed the Creek Confederacy. The Coushatta were traditionally agriculturalists, growing maize and other food crops, and supplementing their diet by hunting game. They are also known for their skill at basketry. In the 20th century, they began cultivating rice and crawfish on tribally owned farms. Today they live primarily in Allen Parish, Louisiana and some share a reservation near Livingston, Texas with the Alabama tribe.

Cowichan – One of the principal dialectic groups of the coastal division of the Salishan linguistic stock. They were closely connected with the Salishan Indians, who occupied the valley of Fraser River from its mouth nearly to Spuzzum, British Columbia. They lived primarily on the southeast coast of  Vancouver Island between Nanoose Bay and Saanich Inlet in Canada.

Cowlitz – Speaking their own language, it belongs to the Salishan family of languages among Northwest Coast indigenous peoples. Later, the Upper Cowlitz adopted the Sahaptin language from east of the Cascade Mountains. The Cowlitz tribe was historically based along the Cowlitz and Lewis Rivers, as well as having a strong presence at Fort Vancouver. The first white man known to have contacted the Cowlitz was Simon Plamondon of Quebec. He eventually married Chief Scanewea’s daughter, Thas-e-muth. The Cowlitz produced coiled baskets with strong geometric designs. These were made of bear grass, cedar root, horsetail root and cedar bark and were used to gather berries and fruits. Such baskets were often repaired and kept through many generations. The Cowlitz were federally acknowledged in February 2000 and are in the process of establishing federally recognized tribal lands in Longview, Washington.

Cree – One of the largest native groups in North America, the name “Cree” comes from “Kristineaux”, or “Kri” for short; a name given to them by French fur traders. The Cree are indigenous people from Manitoba, Canada; however, one branch moved southwest to adopt a buffalo culture. This group is referred to as the Plains Cree. Although warlike, the Cree were friendly to fur traders, and their history closely follows that of the Hudson’s Bay and North West fur companies. The Cree had a major impact on Canadian history and its language continues to be one the most widely used Indian languages in many communities across Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta, Canada. Today they are one of the larger Canadian tribes with another group living in Montana.

Me-Na-Wa. A Creek warrior, McKenney and Hall, 1837

Me-Na-Wa. A Creek warrior, by McKenney and Hall, 1837

Creek – Also called the Muskogee, was made up of several separate tribes that occupied Georgia and Alabama in the American Colonial Period. It is believed that the Creek culture began as a way to guard against other larger conquering Indian tribes of the region.

Croatan – The designation in North Carolina for a people of mixed Indian and white blood, found in the coastal areas of the state. For many years they were classed with the free blacks but steadily refused to accept such classification,  claiming to be the descendants of the early native tribes and of white settlers who had intermarried with them. They may have been a branch of the larger Roanoke tribe or allied with them. Now extinct as a tribe, they were one of the Carolina Algonquian peoples, numerous at the time of English encounter in the 16th century. The Roanoke territory also extended to the mainland, where they had their chief town on the western shore of Croatan Sound.

Crow – In their own language, the Crow tribe of southeastern Montana call themselves Absaroka, or the “bird people.” To the early French explorers and voyageurs, the Crow were called the “handsome men” because of their beautifully worked garments and the long flowing black hair that sometimes reached all the way to the ground.

Cuñeil – A Yuman tribe which were inhabiting the territory between San Diego, southern California, and the Colorado River in the late 18th Century. They were friendly with the Cocopa. From their habitat and the similarity in their names, they would seem to be identical but they were reported early on as being distinct.

Cupeño – Speaking a dialect belonging to the Luiseno-Cahuilla branch of the Shoshonean division of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock, they traditionally lived about 50 miles inland and 50 miles north of the modern-day U.S.-Mexico border in the Peninsular Range of Southern California. They were estimated to have numbered about 500 in 1770 and 150 in 1910. Today they are part of the Pala Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians, and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated January 2021.

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