Lakota or Lakhota – Lakota is the name that this branch of the Sioux give themselves and means “Allies” or “Confederates,” expressing their intimate relationship with the Dakota and Nakota. Known more fully as the Teton Lakota, they were allied with the Cheyenne and Arapahoe. In the 17th century but were driven west by the Anishinaabe, who had acquired guns from the French. In their westward progress, they drove the Kiowa out of the Black Hills in 1765. Their other chief enemies were the Pawnee, the Crow, and the Arikara. They adapted to their new environment and became practitioners of the Plains Culture. They are most famous for having led their allies to victory over George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn in 1876.
Lenape – See Delaware.
Lumbee – The Lumbee are original residents of North Carolina, primarily Robeson County, where they still live today. Unlike most Indian tribes in the United States, the Lumbee Indians do not have a reservation or recognized tribal leadership. The Lumbees own their own land and have a strong community, but they are considered regular U.S. and North Carolina citizens and do not have sovereignty rights. Some Lumbee people are dissatisfied with this situation and are working to change it.
Mahican – A confederacy of Native People of the Eastern Woodlands with an Algonquian language. They occupied both banks of the Hudson River, almost to Lake Champlain. The Mohegans were a tribe of the Mahican group; both have been called Mohicans. By 1664 the Mohawk had driven the Mahicans East to Massachusetts. Their complete dispersal was hastened when their enemies were armed by the Dutch.
Maliseet – The Maliseet Nation was a member of the Wabanaki Confederacy that controlled much of New England and the Canadian Maritimes. The Maliseet were original natives of the area between Maine and New Brunswick. Today, most Maliseet live on the Canadian side of the border, in New Brunswick and Quebec, with the exception of one band that lives in Maine.
Mandan – These indigenous people of the Plains, spoke a Siouan language. Said to have come from the East, by the mid-18th century they lived in North Dakota. The Mandan were agricultural people with distinctive cultural traits, including a myth of origin in which their ancestors climbed from beneath the earth on the roots of a grapevine. Their numbers were severely depleted in the 19th century by war and epidemics; in 1990 there were 1,207 Mandans in the U.S. Today, the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa (a band of ‘Gros Ventre’) live together on reservations in North Dakota.
Mascouten – Mascouten apparently comes from a Fox word meaning “little prairie people.” The first occupied parts of southwestern Michigan but abandoned their location and joined Algonquin tribes in Wisconsin after having been attacked by the Ottawa and Neutral tribes. Continuing to move south and westward, the Mascouten tribe was eventually assimilated into the Algonquin, Wasbash, Kickapoo and other groups until they were completely absorbed.
Massachusett – Contact with Europeans probably occurred at an early date, perhaps as soon as John Cabot in 1497, but they were first mentioned specifically by Captain John Smith when he explored the coast of New England in 1614. Disaster struck immediately afterward in the form of three separate epidemics that swept across New England between 1614 and 1617 destroying 3/4 of the original native population. No organized groups of the Massachusett are known to have survived after 1800.
Mattabesic – Mention is often made of the Wappinger and Mattabesic Confederations, but these organizations never really existed. In truth, the Mattabesic and Wappinger were not even tribes within the usual meaning of the word. What they really were was a collection of a dozen, or so, small tribes which spoke Algonquin, shared a common culture and occupied a defined geographic area. The name of the Mattabesic comes from a single village that was on the Connecticut River near Middletown.
Menominee – Part of the Algonquian language family, the Menominee originally lived on and near the Menominee River in Wisconsin. The tribe is named after their staple food, wild rice. Tradition says that the Menominee were driven into the region later identified with them, from the neighborhood of Michilimackinac, but when they were first known to white men they were already there, and they remained there until 1854, though their villages sometimes extended to the Fox River and their later claims reached to the mouth of Milwaukee River on Lake Michigan and on the west side of Green Bay to the headwaters of Menominee and Fox Rivers. Westward they claimed the height of land between Green Bay and Lake Superior. A most noteworthy characteristic of the Menominee was their amazing ability to survive as an independent tribe in the midst of large and powerful neighbors including the Dakota, Ojibwe, and Winnebago. Their initial resistance to encroachment almost resulted in their destruction, but the Menominee adapted to the changed situation and maintained good relations with these tribes. In 1854 they ceded all their lands except a reserve on Wolf River, where many remain today. It was estimated that there were some 3,000 Menominee in 1650. The most conservative estimates made during the 19th-century range from 1,600 to 1,900. In the first decade of the 20th century, their numbers were placed at 1,600. By 1937 they had increased to 2,221. Today, there are some 8,700 members of the Menominee Nation, many living in or near the village of Keshena, Wisconsin.
Metoac – The Metoac had the misfortune to occupy Long Island which was regarded as the best land in the Northeast. Each summer from the waters of Long Island Sound, the Metoac harvested clam shells which, during the winter, were painstakingly fashioned into small beads they called “wampompeag” – shortened later by the English into the more familiar form “wampum.” The population of all of the Metoac tribes in 1600 was about 10,000, but the combined effects of warfare and epidemics left the Metoac at less than 500 by 1659. Today, there are two reservations on Long Island: the Shinnecock with nearly 400 residents; and the 200 Unkechaug at the Poospatock Reserve. Besides those on the reservations, there are more than 1,400 Metoac living in the immediate area. Although state recognition of the Shinnecock and Unkechaug dates from the colonial period, because they have never signed treaties with the United States, neither tribe is federally recognized.
Miami – Originally from northern Indiana and the adjacent areas of Illinois and Ohio, the Miami had the reputation of being slow-spoken and polite with an inclination towards elaborate dress, especially among their chiefs. Tattooing was common to both sexes. Two Miami tribes, the Wea and Piankashaw, were removed to Missouri during the 1820s and moved again in 1832 moved to the Marais des Cygnes River in eastern Kansas where they later merged with the remnants of the Illinois. In 1867 the combined tribe was forced to relocate for a final time to northeastern Oklahoma. The remainder of the Miami tribes remained in Indiana until 1846 when 600 left for Kansas only to be moved to Oklahoma after the Civil War. Descendents of the Miami who remained in northern Indiana still live in their original homeland of northern Indiana.