Mohegan – Mohegan means wolf. So does Mahican, but these are the names of two distinct Algonquin tribes with different locations and histories. It is all too common for the Mohegan of the Thames River in eastern Connecticut to be confused with the Mahican from the middle Hudson Valley in New York (a distance of about 100 miles). Frequently confused with the Mohicans due to a poorly-researched literary classic, the Mohegan people consist of many originally independent tribes including the Pequot and Montauk.
Mohawk – Of the Iroquoian linguistic stock and Eastern Woodlands area, the Mohawk were once the chief people of the Five Nations of the Iroquoian Confederacy. Their first contact with the European settlers came in the form of conflict, fighting against Samuel De Champlain. Dutch explorers managed to trade with the Mohawk, exchanging rifles for furs. In later years, the British formed an alliance with the Mohawk, to fight the French and American colonists. After the American Revolution, most of the Mohawk relocated to Canada, where the vast majority still reside today.
Mohican – Frequently confused with the Mohegans due to a poorly-researched literary classic, the Mohican tribe was not driven to extinction, merely exiled to Wisconsin.
Mojave – Living along the banks of the Lower Colorado River in California and Arizona, their tribal structure was based on the family unit. They practiced agriculture, growing corn and beans amongst other things, and were also skilled at fishing and hunting. Their belief system was based on a singular supreme entity, and their own personal value system revolved around courage in battle. There are currently around fifteen hundred Mojave Indians living on reservations in Arizona.
Montagnais – Nitassinan, the Montagnais homeland, is a vast area that includes most of Quebec east of the St. Maurice River extending along the north side of the St. Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean in Labrador. Diet relied heavily on the hunting of moose and seal but with a heavy reliance on fishing for salmon and eel. Montagnais considered porcupine a delicacy. So much so, they were sometimes referred to as the “Porcupine Indians.” Currently, there are almost 13,000 Montagnais in Quebec with another 800 living in Labrador.
Munsee – The name derives from the people’s original band name, Minisink, which means “from the rocky land.” The Munsees originally lived in the mid-Atlantic, in areas that are now southern New York, northern New Jersey, and southeastern Connecticut. Dutch and British colonists forced them to leave their homeland in the 1700s. Some of them retreated to Canada, where most Munsee live today. Others joined the Mahican Indians in New York; the two tribes were eventually deported to Wisconsin, where they live together today. Still, others sought shelter with their relatives the Delaware (Lenape) and continue to live among them now.
Muscogean – A language family containing Alabama, Apalachee, Calusa, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Coushatta, Creek, Hitchiti, Seminole, and Yamasee tribes. Originally they were confined chiefly to the Gulf states east of almost all of Mississippi and Alabama, and parts of Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. According to a tradition held in common by most of their tribes, they had reached their historic seats from some starting point west of the Mississippi, usually placed, somewhere on the upper Red River. Later, most were moved to Indian Territory.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated October 2020.