Summary of Native American Tribes – C

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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 TuscaroraWwar 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 – A linguistic family who lived on the coast of central California. In 1891 explorer, John Wesley Powell divided this area between two families, the Moquelumnan and Costanoan. The Moquelumnan family occupied the portion of the old Mutsun Territory east of San Joaquin River and north of San Francisco Bay. The territory of the Costanoan family extended from the Pacific Ocean to San Joaquin River, and from the Golden Gate and Suisun Bay on the north to Point Sur on the coast and a short distance south of Soledad in the Salinas Valley. They lived mainly on vegetal products, especially acorns and seeds, though they also obtained fish and mussels, and captured deer and smaller game. Their clothing was scant, the men going naked. Their houses were tule or grass huts, their boats balsas or rafts of tules. They made baskets, but no pottery, and appear to have been as primitive as most of the tribes of California. Seven missions — San Carlos, Soledad, San Juan Bautista, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San José, and Dolores (San Francisco) — were established in Costanoan territory by the Franciscans subsequent to 1770, and continued until their confiscation by the Mexican government in 1834, when the Indians were scattered. By the early 1900s, they numbered only about 25-30, most of whom lived a “Mexican” life rather than Indian. There languages haven’t been spoken in more than fifty years. However, some Ohlone Indian people are working to revive the ancestral language again.

 

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 Nanoos 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, horse tail 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 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; 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. Crees intermarried with the French and later Scots settlers to form a mixed blood people known as the Metis. The Metis and Cree fought the Canadian government forces when the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad encroached upon their lands. Finally, in 1885 they were defeated. 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. One of the Five Civilized Tribes, they formed the Creek Confederacy with other Muskogean speaking tribes, the Alabama, Hitchiti, and Coushatta. The Creek Confederacy was in constant flux, its numbers and land possessions ever-changing as small bands joined and withdrew from the alliance. Society was organized in matrilineal, exogamous clans, each bearing the name of its totem animal. The economy centered upon agriculture, growing corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, melons, and sweet potatoes. When war erupted in 1813 between the United States and the Red Stick faction of the Creek Nation, a series of raids were launched against the white settlements. These raids culminated in the sacking of Fort Mims, in which 400 settlers were killed. General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend, and exacted a disastrous cession of 23 million acres of land from the Creeks. When Jackson became president, he forcibly removed the Creek to what is now Oklahoma. Today, the Creek Confederation has its capital in Okmulgee, Oklahoma; but there are a few surviving bands in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. See More….

 

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.

 

Absaroka Warriors

Absaroka Warriors

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. The name “Crow” came from crudely translating the term “Absaroka” into “Crow people” instead of “bird people” More …

 

Cuñeil – A Yuman tribe which were inhabiting the territory between San Diego, southern California and the 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 August, 2010.

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