Summary of Native American Tribes – J-K

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Jemez – Pronounced “Hay-mess,” or traditionally as “He-mish”, the Jemez are a  federally recognized American Indian tribe with 3,400 tribal members, most of whom reside in the pueblo village known as Walatowa, a Towa word meaning “this is the place”. Oral traditions say their ancestors originated from a place called “Hua-na-tota,” which is apparently identical with the Shipapu and Cibobe of other pueblo tribes. They migrated to the “Canon de San Diego Region” from the four-corners area in the late 13th century. By the time of European contact in the year 1541, the Jemez Nation was one of the largest and most powerful of the Puebloan cultures, occupying numerous pueblo villages that were strategically located on the high mountain mesas and the canyons that surround the present Pueblo of Walatowa. Today, it is the last remaining Towa-speaking pueblo, having  absorbed the Towa-speaking survivors of Pecos Pueblo when it was abandoned in the 1830’s. The pueblo itself is closed to the public except during feast days. However, Walatowa, the main village, is open to the public. It is located on the north bank of Jemez River, about 20 miles northwest of Bernalillo, New Mexico. More information: Pueblo of Jemez-Walatowa Visitor Center, 7413 Hwy 4, P.O. Box 280, Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico 87024; (575) 834-7235.


Jemez Slideshow. All images are available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.


Kalapooian Family – A group of tribes that formerly occupied the valley of Willamette River in northwest Oregon, they spoke a distinct language. Little is known of their history, but they seem to have confined themselves to the territory mentioned, except in the case of one tribe, the Yonkalla, which pushed southward to the valley of the Umpqua. The earliest accounts describe a numerous population in Willamette Valley, which is one of the most fertile in the northwest; but the Kalapooian tribes appear to have suffered severe losses by epidemic disease about 1824. They were at constant war with the coast peoples and also suffered much at the hands of the white pioneers. Game, in which the country abounded, and roots of various kinds constituted their chief food supply. Unlike most of the Indians of that region they did not depend on salmon, which are unable to ascend the Willamette above the falls, and at which point the Kalapooian territory ended. Of the general customs of the group there is little information. Slavery existed in a modified form, marriage was by purchase and was accompanied by certain curious ceremonials, and flattening of the head by fronto-occipital pressure was practiced. It is probable that in early times, the tribes and divisions of this family were more numerous, but the following were the chief ones: Ahantchuyuk or Pudding River, Atfalati or Tualati, Calapooya, Chelamela, Chepenafa, Lakmiut, Santiam, Yamel, and Yonkalla.

Kanza (Kaw) – A Siouan tribe closely related to the OmahaOsageQuapaw, and Ponca, the name “Kaw” or “Kanza” means, “People of the South Wind,” and the state of Kansas takes its name from them. Their homeland was along the Kansas River, a tributary of the Missouri River that extends from Kansas into Nebraska. The Kanza were farmers and therefore more sedentary than most of the other plains tribes. They were notable for their hairstyle, a completely shaven head except for a single lock of hair at the back of their heads. Today, they hold a small land trust near the Osage in Oklahoma.  More …

Karok – Indigenous people of California, their name means “Upstream,” defining them in relation to the Yurok, who lived “downstream” on the Klamath River from them. The Karok’s name for themselves is simply “‘Araar,” meaning “human being.” Traditionally, the Karok lived along the Klamath River in Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties in northwestern California, and on the tributary Salmon River. The Karok had little contact with white settlers until gold miners arrived in 1850 and 1851, resulting in widespread disease, violence, social dislocation, and cultural breakdown. Today, some 4,000 people identify themselves as having a Karok heritage. Though the Karok have no reservation, their tribal headquarters are in Happy Camp, California.

Kaskaskia – One of several tribes that made up the Illiniwek Confederation, the name in their language translates to “he scrapes it off by means of a tool.” Their first contact with Europeans reportedly occurred near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1667 at a French Jesuit mission station. For years the French Jesuits built missions and ministered to Kaskaskia until the French and Indian War ended. By that time, the Kaskaskia and other Illiniwek tribes were quickly declining. The original population was estimated by early French explorers from 6,000 to more than 20,000. But, by 1764, their numbers had been reduced to some 600, and by 1778 to just a little more than 200.

The causes of decline included making war with their French allies against other Indian tribes and the inevitable European diseases. In 1769, a Peoria warrior killed Ottawa Chief Pontiac, which brought down upon the Kaskaskia and other Illinois tribes, the wrath of the Great Lakes tribes, and soon the Ottawa, Sac and Fox, Miami, Kickapoo and Potawatomi tribes began to occupy their old tribal range along the Illinois River. What was left of the tribe joined with the WeaPeoria, and Piankashaw tribes in 1854.  They were then moved to Kansas before again being forced to move to Oklahoma, becoming the Peoria tribe of Oklahoma.

Keresan Family – Also called Keres, Queresan, and Queres, this is a group of seven related languages spoken by Keres Pueblo peoples in New Mexico. Each is mutually intelligible with its closest neighbors, but there is significant diversity between the Western and Eastern groups. This linguistic family of Pueblo Indians includes the inhabitants of several villages on the Rio Grande, in north central New Mexico, between the Rito de los Frijoles (at Bandelier National Monument) and the Jemez River, as well as on the latter stream from the pueblo of Zia to its month. The west division, comprising the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, are situated westward from the Rio Grande, the latter on the San Jose River. Like the other Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, the Keresan Indians maintain that they had their origin at the mythical Shipapu and that they slowly drifted southward to the Rio Grande, taking up their abode in the Rito de los Frijoles, or Tyuonyi, and constructing there, the cliff dwellings found today excavated in the friable volcanic tufa. Long before the coming of the Spaniards they had abandoned the Rito de los Frijoles, and, moving farther southward, separated into a number of autonomous village communities. According to Francisco Vasquez de Coronado , who visited the “Quirix” province in 1540, these Indians occupied seven pueblos. Forty years later Antonio de Espejo found five; while in 1630, Fray Alonso Benavides described the people as numbering 4,000, in seven towns. As with Tiwa, Tewa, and Towa, there is some disagreement today among the Keres people as to whether there should be a written language. Some pueblo elders feel that their languages should be preserved by oral traditions alone. However, many Keres speakers have decided that literacy is important for passing the language on to the children and have developed their own orthography (spelling system) for their language. Today, there are programs teaching Pueblo children to read and write in five of the seven Keres-speaking pueblos.



Kares Slideshow. All images are available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.


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