Navajo – Native Navajo economy relied on agriculture and livestock such as sheep, goats, and horses. They planted fields of corn, beans, and squash and practiced hunting and gathering to obtain even more plant foods. Navajo life became difficult after western contact.
Neusiok – Also known as the Neuse tribe, they were thought to have been of Iroquoian stock. In 1584 they occupied the country on the south side of lower Neuse River, within the present Craven and Carteret Counties, North Carolina. They were at war with the more southerly coast tribes. In the later colonial period, the Indians of the same region were commonly known as Neuse Indians and had dwindled by the year 1700 to 15 warriors in two towns, Chattooka and Rouconk. They probably disappeared by incorporation with the Tuscarora.
Neutrals – The tribe was originally located in southern Ontario north of Lake Erie. Their territory also included some of western New York (east and south of Niagara Falls) and a portion of southeastern Michigan near Detroit. In 1641 2,000 warriors of the Neutrals attacked a large, fortified Asistagueronon village in central Michigan (presumed by location to have been Mascouten). After a ten-day siege, the village was overrun, and 800 prisoners taken. Women and children were taken back to the Neutrals’ villages, but the men were blinded and then left to wander aimlessly in the woods until they starved to death. Eventually, the tribe drifted south, migrating into several other tribes. Some of the blood of the Neutrals probably still flows in the veins of the Seneca in Oklahoma.
Neketemeuk – Thought to have been a Salishan tribe who lived above the Dalles, Oregon. Later historians discredited the existence of an independent tribe of this name.
Nemalquinner – A Chinookan tribe, they lived at the falls of the Willamette, in Oregon when they were met by Lewis and Clark in 1806. They also had a temporary house on the north end of Sauvies Island. They numbered 200 in 4 houses.
Nespelem – A small Salishan tribe of Washington state, they are relatives of the Okanagan tribe and speak the same language. In the 1800s, many other native tribes of Oregon were moved onto Nespelem land by the US government, which eventually became the intertribal Colville Reservation, where most Nespelem descendants still live today.
Nez Perce – The largest ethnic group in the Columbia Plateau, in western Idaho, northeast Oregon, and southeast Washington, the Nez Perce were closely related to the Cayuse, Tenino, and Umatilla tribes to their west. Their name means “pierced noses,” given to them by French traders.
Nipmuc – The Nipmuc generally lived along rivers or on the shores of small lakes and seem to have occupied the area for as far back as can be told. Like other New England Algonquin, the Nipmuc were agricultural. They changed locations according to the seasons but always remained within the bounds of their own territory. Part of their diet came from hunting, fishing, and gathering wild food, but as a rule, they did not live as well as the coastal tribes who had the luxury of seafood. Each group was ruled by its own sachem, but there was very little political organization beyond the village or band level. Only two identifiable groups of Nipmuc have survived to the present day. Both are recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have nearly 1,400 members, 250 of whom live in Connecticut (which has not recognized the Nipmuc). The Hassanamisco have a small two-acre reservation at Grafton, Massachusetts. The Chaubunagungamaug have a privately owned ten-acre reservation in northeast Connecticut. Although both groups have applied, neither is federally recognized.
Nootka – A confederacy of 20 or more tribes of mountainous western Vancouver Island who all speak closely related dialects belonging to the Wakashan language family. They had a hunter-gatherer economy with extensive reliance upon fishing, including the hunting of whales. Well-crafted dugout canoes were used to ply the ocean. The Sky and Thunder gods were important in their religious beliefs, as were the Wolf Spirits. At a certain point in their lives, Nootka boys were abducted by men impersonating Wolf Spirits. They were taken away and taught wolf songs and dances. In a mock battle before men of the tribe rescued their boys and drove away the Wolf Spirits. The Nootka also practiced the ritual giving away of wealth known as “potlatch,” the word itself coming from the Nootka patchatl, “sharing.” Today the Nootka live in 18 villages scattered about western Vancouver.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated January 2021.