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Native American Nations and the Last Navajo Code Talker

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

Eight Navajo Code Talkers in World War II, members of groups eager to help their country.

Eight Navajo Code Talkers in World War II, members of groups eager to help their country.

An Indigenous Hero Who Fought for America

Chester Nez, who died in June 2014 at age 93, was the last survivor of the group of 29 original Navajo Code Talkers recruited from the American West, specifically New Mexico. In 2001, he received the Congressional Gold Medal, many years after his service in WWII.

Here, we feature Native North American Nations, otherwise known as Indigenous Peoples, First Peoples, or First Nations in America and Canada.

Anthropologists and specialists in human migration feel that these are direct descendants of the peoples who traveled across the Bering Strait land mass long ago, from Far Northern Europe and Northern Asia.

One marker indicating this migration includes the changes seen in the depiction of the Thunderbird as we examine the arts from Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington southward to New Mexico. Similarly, representations of the reindeer who pulls the sun up from the horizon each morning in Far Northern European legends changes into a dragon as we examine arts from Northern Europe across the globe through Mongolia, Siberia, Northern China, and Korea.

The Thunderbird and his junior brother are often portrayed in Indigenous carved cedar poles and in cedar masks among Pacific Northwest Indigenous groups.

Non-Coastal Western Tribes

Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Often found in Idaho, the wing dress came from the tail dress or two hides dress. The T-shaped yoke extends into cape-like sleeves. A printed cotton shirt or skirt was worn under the wing dress.

Often found in Idaho, the wing dress came from the tail dress or two hides dress. The T-shaped yoke extends into cape-like sleeves. A printed cotton shirt or skirt was worn under the wing dress.

Idaho

  • Kootenai Tribal Council
  • Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee
  • Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation: Blackfoot, Idaho
  • Shoshone-Bannock Tribe

Montana

Wyoming

  • Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Nation: Fort Washakie WY
  • Northwestern Shoshoni: Rock Springs WY

Central Western Non-Coastal States

Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

The earliest inhabitants of Arizona were our people of the Pueblo Culture, who migrated northward and eastward in search of resources and inhabiting the Southwest. The reason they migrated from California into what became Arizona before they entered Nevada is unknown.

Some archaeologists feel that Chinese exploration from 200 BC to 499 AD on the West Coast spread inward to Nevada and Arizona, as a larger group split into two smaller bands; and then proceeded to Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado to create our future groups of the Pueblo, Hopi, Ute, and Zuni.

These bands than gathered near water at the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. A commercial and recreational Riverwalk on the Arkansas River is prominent there today. At least 21 separate groups live in Arizona.

Nevada Peoples

  • Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes
  • Reno-Sparks Indian Colony: Washoe, Paiute, Shoshone
  • Skull Vally Goshutes
  • Si-Te-Cah legends: Paiutes describe a tall tribe, 6.5 to 8 feet, with red hair. They were cannibals and may have built pyramids in Churchill County.
  • Washo Nation: Lake Tahoe region.

Utah Peoples

  • Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation
  • Northern Ute: Fort Duchesne UT
  • Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah: Cedar City UT
  • Skull Valley Band: Grantsville UT
  • White Mesa Ute Council

Colorado Peoples

  • Southern Ute Tribe
  • Ute Mountain Ute

Southern Non-Coastal States

Arizona and New Mexico

Arizona Peoples

Many indigenous nations living in Arizona are active in businesses, including:

  • Ak-Chin Indian Community: Ak-Chin Farms and the Tribal Government.
  • Yavapai-Apache Nation : Cliff Castle tourist attraction.
  • Navajo Nation: Tourism has the major role in the Navajo economy, along with Diné College.
  • Cocopah Indian Reservation: Tourism and Agriculture.
  • Colorado River Indian Tribes: Blue Water in Parker.
Navajo blanket made in the 1800s.

Navajo blanket made in the 1800s.

  • White Mountain Apache Tribe: Timber, lumber, hardware, and skiing.
  • Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation: Agriculture, a sand and gravel center, and gasoline sales.
  • Fort Mojave Indian Tribe: Mojave Valley and Laughlin, NV businesses.
  • Gila River Indian Community: Gila River farms, sand and gravel operations, and an industrial park.
  • Havasupai Indian Reservation: Tourism and related arts, crafts, and retail.
  • Hopi Tribe: Agriculture and IT businesses.
  • Hualapai Tribe: Their economy centers on tourism, cattle ranching, timber sales, and arts/crafts.
  • Kaibab-Pauite Tribe: Economy is based on tourism, livestock, and agriculture - especially a 1,300 tree fruit orchard.
  • Pascua Yaqui Tribe: Landscaping, adobe blocks, and bingo.
  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community: A diverse economy.
  • San Carlos Apache Reservation: Lumber, tourism, cattle, recreation, and retail.
  • Tohono O'odham Nation: Tourism, an industrial park ,and a resort.
  • Tonto Apache Tribe: Businesses in Payson
  • Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe: Tourism, gaming, retail activities, a resort, a business park, and a shopping center.
  • Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe: Agricultural, tourism, a sand and gravel operation; RV parks, a grocery store, and a museum.
  • San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe: Livestock and agriculture.

New Mexico

New Mexico indigenous nations are often grouped into smaller units called "Pueblos." In other Native American Nations, the small groups are called bands or communities.

The state supports at least 19 different Pueblos, 3 Apache tribes, and the Navajo Nation.

Native Alaskans

Pacific Northwest Coastal Peoples

Five major Native American nations comprise the Alaskan indigenous peoples, but there are multiple dozens upon dozens of bands and smaller independent groups in the state. The people of the nations and groups number around 100,000 altogether. The 5 major nations are:

From Alaska, this is a woman in a fringed Chilkat blanket, a Hamatsa neck-ring and a mask representing a deceased relative who had been a shaman.

From Alaska, this is a woman in a fringed Chilkat blanket, a Hamatsa neck-ring and a mask representing a deceased relative who had been a shaman.

The peoples living along the northern shores of Alaska are moving farther inland as the warming climate melts the pack ice and floods the shoreline. The fishing industry is declining somewhat as well.

All in all the native peoples of Alaska are more like those in the Pacific Northwest of the USA and Canada than the Native Americans that migrated southward and into the rest of America. The Southwest nations are different in arts and culture than the states to the north, but threads of similarity can be seen.

Fire Mask Dancers portray the thunderbird  in Alaska and the Far North

Fire Mask Dancers portray the thunderbird in Alaska and the Far North

Native Hawaiians

Native Hawaiians know themselves as the Kanaka Maoli people and are descendants of early Polynesians that migrated to the Hawaiian Islands around 1500-2000 years ago, as early as near the birth of Christ.

Some other Native Americans and Alaskan indigenous peoples have moved into Hawaii as well.

A Tribute to Kanaka Maoli

Sources

Personal Studies:

  • Honoring our Ancestors Pow Wow: Wayne OH; 2015
  • Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow: Dayton OH; 2016
  • Shawnee Woodland Pow Wow: Bellefontaine, OH; 2010 - 2017
  • United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation, Storyteller presentations: Ohio State Fair and Bellefontaine OH: 1970 - 2014.

Websites:

  • Indian Pueblo Culture Center; www.indianpueblo.org/ Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  • School for Advanced Research: http://sarweb.org/ Retrieved February 15, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Additions

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 20, 2014:

Thanks for commenting, jacksson47!

John Reeder from Reedley, CA on January 13, 2014:

Great Hub, lots of information.

justom from 41042 on March 24, 2010:

Really nice hub with great info. When you have time check out my hub for some nice vectored art my son Justin did of a few of the code talkers and some related stuff. Peace!!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 10, 2007:

As of the 1990 US Census, there were about 2,000,000 Native Americans in USA alone, in may nationns, bands, pueblos, and independent groups. etc. We have over half the US to go, followed by Mexico, Central and South America and the West Indies. Much fun yet!

There are even some Native Americans migrated to Greenland. e may end up going around the Polar North globally! I wonder if Santa is part of this... Haha.

Wehzo on December 09, 2007:

Very good Patty, I, like Zsuzsy Bee, will have to go back and start from the first one.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 09, 2007:

I'm thinking you have just about covered all there is. I have to go back all eight hubs and see who you could have left out???

I just know I'm in for a good read when you publish a new article.

regards Zsuzsy

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 09, 2007:

And there's still much more to follow... :)

MrMarmalade from Sydney on December 09, 2007:

The stories and the history gets better and better

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 09, 2007:

Tahnk you! The cultures are great, aren't they?

gabriella05 from Oldham on December 09, 2007:

Astonishing music pictures every thing brilliant