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Southeast Native American Indian Nations

Updated on August 8, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on Indigenous Peoples for over four decades.

A Chickasaw spoon from 1885.
A Chickasaw spoon from 1885.

Native North Americans in Southeastern USA

Ms. Loretta Kryzanski wrote in to say that she is in the 4th grade and would like to know which of the many Native American Nations in the Southeast US are the largest.

Native North Americans have lived in the land from Mexico to the top of Canada and on all the islands found in the surrounding waters. These indigenous peoples are also called Native Americans, American Indians, Native American Indians, or even Amerindians in the Southeast.

The Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic human genome study project of the 2000s found genetic markers that link the various indigenous peoples on our continent to one another and to northern Asians and Northern European indigenous groups like the Saami (Laplanders).

The native peoples of the Southeast US arrived in that area generally by migrating from the Eastern Hemisphere into the Western Hemisphere and traveling across the land in search of new resources.

Who are the Southeastern Natives?

Competing theories exist about a time frame in which SubPolar Peoples from the Eastern Hemisphere traveled across the Bering Land Bridge, which is now the Bering Strait (a body of water separating Alaska from Siberia).

SubPolar Peoples have lived in and migrated across Northern Europe, Russia, and Northern Asia around the Arctic Circle.

One theory suggests migration to Alaska about 36,000 BC and another estimates the time as about 12,000 BC.

In annual national festivals celebrating the peoples of the USSR in the early 1980s, tribes living in the most northern regions of the USSR were called simply "The People of the North." The appeared as fierce fur-clad people leading their reindeer across the stage. They continue to survive harsh winters in -75° F weather without modern heating or homes. Northern Europe, Siberia, and Mongolia are similarly as cold, but indigenous people thrive in these regions as well.

The Southeast US tribal nations are survivors related to teh SubPolar Peoples.

In the United States

There may have been one continuous or two separate waves of migration from Northern Europe, Siberia, Northern China, Korea, and Japan into what is now USA, but we will concern ourselves with the more recent peoples of 12,000 BC. They came across Alaska, moved across Canada to the Atlantic Ocean and crossed parts of that as well.

Some of this First Nations group moved instead down into the Pacific Northwest and fanned out across the US and Mexico, mixing with other peoples that likely came across the Pacific Ocean further south by longboats and other craft. They also mixed eventually with African slaves, especailly in Florida and with other Africans.

Some Native Americans migrated all the way south into all the areas of South America, down to the southernmost tip of the continent. Some later migrated back northward and we think they ended up in the Ohio Valley. many Native Americans mixed with whites and nearly all nationalituies that came into the New World and they are known as Metis or other similar terms, spelled differently depending upon the region of the US.

We have 1000s Nation American Nations in what is now the USA. Some are recognized by the Federal Government, some are recognized by US State Governments, and some have no legal standing at all, although many of applied for it. Some groups are very small and are called communities or other designations, instead of nations.

While the "teepee" is largely found in the western USA, American business people of the 1940s - 1960s built Wigwam Village motor courts in 6 SE USA locations, AZ and CA.
While the "teepee" is largely found in the western USA, American business people of the 1940s - 1960s built Wigwam Village motor courts in 6 SE USA locations, AZ and CA.

Southeastern USA

The Native Americans spread all the way across America to the Atlantic Ocean all along the East Coast. Then, as Europeans landed and claimed more and more of the land, these settlers and the governments that formed in the USA pushed the Native Americans back to the West. Not all went westward, but many did. A particularly sad case of this is the Trail of Tears, which you may want to study.

 

A Wigwam Village Motel
A Wigwam Village Motel | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Moses Walkingstick, Cherokee Indian Reservation, N.C.Choctaw Chief Pushmataha and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Seminole Chief, Nea-Math-La, between 1837-44
Moses Walkingstick, Cherokee Indian Reservation, N.C.
Moses Walkingstick, Cherokee Indian Reservation, N.C. | Source
Choctaw Chief Pushmataha and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh
Choctaw Chief Pushmataha and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh
Seminole Chief, Nea-Math-La, between 1837-44
Seminole Chief, Nea-Math-La, between 1837-44 | Source

Names of the Largest Southeastern Native American Nations

Largest Tribal Groups in the Southeastern USA

  1. Cherokee Nation: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee
  2. Choctaw Nation: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi,
  3. Seminole Nation: Florida

Note: in 2010, the Cherokee comprised the largest tribal group in the United States, including those of mixed heritage. One band of Cherokee Nation in North Carolina is descended from inter-marriage with the settlers of the formerly-lost Roanoke Colony.

Census2010

Many Native American groups have been growing since the late 1990s and the data logged in the US Census of 2010 gives the best estimates of largest tribal groups.

The US Census Bureau published a 2004 estimate by nation or tribe in an official document below that designates each tribal name and the number of people in it.

The information is found at http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/acs-07.pdf

Quote from CENSUS2010 on January 25, 2012:

The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census brief, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, that shows almost half (44 percent) of this population, or 2.3 million people, reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. This multiracial group grew by 39% from 2000 to 2010.

Top 10 US States for "American Indian" and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination population in 2010 were:

  1. California
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Arizona
  4. Texas
  5. New York
  6. New Mexico
  7. Washington
  8. North Carolina, Southeastern US
  9. Florida, Southeastern US
  10. Michigan

Sources

  • Census2010; 2010 Census brief, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010.
  • Inglish, P. Lost Roanoke Colony of 1585 is Found: Evidence in Maps, Artifacts and DNA. December 12, 2016.

© 2009 Patty Inglish

Thoughts and Comments

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    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Fantastic hub, as always. I, for one, COULD NOT live in -75 degrees F. I moved farther south than my native Colorado so I could be warmer. :) It's so interesting to think about the Bering Land Bridge and when people may have migrated. There is a great series of fiction books by Sue Harrison. They're getting harder to find, but she basically looked at historical evidence and created stories around what may have happened. They all take place in what is now Alaska. In any case, thanks for sharing this. I'll have to link to it in an upcoming hub. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      @foodie - What? No Teepees in Florida? Have you not heard of the Wigwam Villages (motels) in Orlando FL, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Alabama? :)

      Many disagree with land bridge theory, yet DNA tracks back to the Old World, except for one marker that I think developed here. Also links between Zulu nation and Iroquois present themselves. All moot points, since all humans of the last 12,000 years are related, except for perhaps the Basque and a nation in New Zealand, but the jury is still out. And the people of the Land of Nod, of course.

    • ndnfoodie530 profile image

      ndnfoodie530 6 years ago from Nothern California

      I disagree with the land bridge theory, and the photos of the dwellings provided were from the Plains, but overall a good article. (Sam, TsaLaGi/Powhatan/Siksika Nations)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, this is fascinating. I am glad I found this. Nell

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Veryinteresting hub Patty! Thanks for sharing...

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Defintely, I think the numerous bands developed as the larger groups of immigrants came over the land bridge and moved out in order to find additional resources over at least 12,000 years; some say about 40,000 years of you think there were at least 2 major waves of such Aisn/Northern European-related immigrants. Then, how many different cultures actually boated across fomr Oceana and the Pacific areas?

      The Vancouver Olympics Ceremony acknowledged nearly 1,000 groups in Canada alone. Good to see them included.

    • paul_gibsons profile image

      paul_gibsons 7 years ago from Gibsons, BC, Canada

      although it is udoubtedly true that there have been a number of migrations across the Alaska/Aleutian Land bridge, we have to be careful not to think of say the 12000 BC migration as a large number of dfferent bands or armies marching into northern America and then "fanning out". It is difficult to reconstruct exactly what happened but the most likely scenaro is separate groups of (displaced) peoples crossing over and in at separate times, either pushing earlier established peoples further out or being pushed further out and "down" themselves.

      The second and third questions are of course "why?" and "where did they come from", even more difficult to answer but a couple of hours spent with a pencil, paper and some research into what (little we know) was going on in eurasia at the time, something which isn't done very often as we just tend to concentrate on north America, is highly illuminating and entertaining.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      RGraf, I hope they are as interested as I have been since the 4th grade -- Happy New Year!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great information. Thank you for such a plethora of info for this learner. I'll have to have my children read this for their History class.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Blackfoot! That's wonderful. Artin2010, I wonder if that nation still operates a pen and pencil company. I think they do and they are the best writing pens I have ever found in my life.

    • Artin2010 profile image

      Artin2010 7 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

      Most all of us born in America the last 100 years, with the exception of a few have some Native Indian blood mingled in with the Irish, French, Italian, etc. blood that moved here from the old countries.Very nice hub and truly an interesting subject. Myself, I am some portion Blacfoot Tribe, so I've been told.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      We'll never be done studying this topic and it never becomes boring. Agriculture was magic when done by some of these nations as well as their art and crafts. Thanks for all the comments. I hope our 4th grader constructs an outstanding project.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      An interesting hub on an interesting subject.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your interesting hub. I love reading about the Native American people. To me they were very proud people with a wisdom the white man could have learned a lot from and very gifted in handicraft and art.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Thanks! I'll be interested in the 2010 results as well.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Fascinating as always Patty. Thank you.