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Native Americans: The Indigenous Territories

It’s hard to clearly describe the traditional territories of the Indigenous Nations in the Americas because they were not necessarily clearly defined boundaries as we are accustomed to seeing today. The territories of many Nations are somewhat complex as many of the boundaries were porous, and the territories were overlapping. Some Indigenous Nations worked together in close relationships, while others had more firm boundaries between them.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the traditional territories.

The far north of North America is the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. Given the ability to live in balance with some of the harshest conditions on the planet, it is safe to say that these are some of the strongest and most robust people in the world. From west to east, the nations that occupy this land are Inupiat, Kuskokwim, Eyak, Tlingit, Koyukon, Teslin Tlingit, Dene, Beaver, Tanana, Got’ine, Dënéndeh, Métis, Gwich’in Nành, Inuvialuit, Inuit, Naskapi, Inughuit Nunaat, and Kalaallit Nunaat.

Still in the north of the continent but descending into the more densely populated parallels, where seasons are distinct, yet more forgiving than in the far north, are the territories of Haida, Coast Salish, Okanagan, Syilx, Wet’suwet’en, Dënédeh, Yekooche, Cree, Stoney, Métis, Plains Cree, Assiniboine, Anishinabewaki, Wabanaki, Mi’kmaq’i, and the former Beothuk people. In this region of the continent, average temperatures are warmer, and growing seasons are longer. At this level of the globe, there is a drastic change in the climates as we move from the wet and temperate west coast, through the rugged mountains, across the extremes of the prairies, into densely forested woodland, and back out to coastal conditions on the east side of the continent. The diversity of the environments of the territories is reflected in the diversity of the Indigenous Nations that occupy them.

Moving down toward the present-day border between the United States and Canada are the territories of these Indigenous Nations: Quatsino, Squamish, Salish, Makah, Nisquali, Smish, K’ómoks, Yakama, Spokane, Chelan, Cheyenne, Niitsítapi (Blackfoot), Anishinabewaki, Mississauga, and Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk).

From west to east at the mid-latitudes in the United States are the traditional lands of Kalapuya, Siletz, Lakota, Dakota, Chinook, Pomo, Yuki, Yahooskin, Numu, Newe, Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, and Cheyenne.

In the Southern United States, roughly from west to east are the territories Confederation of the Siletz Indians, Numu, Newe, Shoshone-Bannock, Pueblos, Comanche, Apache, Peoria, Osage, Shawnee, Tsalaguwetiyi, Creek, Choctaw, and Lumbee.

In present-day Mexico, we find the traditional territory of these Indigenous Nations and civilizations: Cocohimí, Guaycura, Jojocobas, Tepehuán, Coahuiltecan, Gwachichi, Mexihcah, Nahua, Zapoteco, Aztec, Maya, Chorotega, and Rama. 

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