The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs has 565 registered tribes in its service. Native American populations are described as a people, a nation and then a tribe within a nation. The tribes known in the 18th century and recognized by the new nation of the United States were mostly the same as in the 16th Century when European colonization began.
The Algonquin and Iroquois nations were the largest people east of the Mississippi River in the 16th Century. In New England, the Massachuset, Narraganset and Wamaponag tribes were the first natives to meet the English settlers. Surrounding the Great Lakes were the populations of the Erie, Huron, Miami, Potawatomi, Sauk and Winnebago tribes. In the Midwestern plains were the Illinois, Shawnee and Kickapoo. Along the Atlantic Ocean were the Delaware, Tuscarota and Powhatan tribes.
The Cherokee tribes lived in the fertile hills of what later became Kentucky and Tennessee. The Mobilian tribes stretched across Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas. Chickasaw and Chocktow tribes populated what became the states of Arkansas and Louisiana. The Caddo and Natchez tribes lived on both sides of the Mississippi River, stretching from the delta west to the green areas of eastern Texas. The Seminoles dominated the Floridian peninsula. Other tribes of Florida were the Timucuan, Calusa and Tequesta.
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The main tribes of the plains were Sioux, Cheyenne and Apache. Other tribes included the Hidatsa, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Pawnee, Shoshone, Mandan and Wichita. The Comanche resided in the southern plains in what became Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The Comanche were the dominant tribe for trade in the region. Some tribes from other regions could be found in the Plains, such as Shawnee, Illinois, Iowa and Iroquois.
In the desert Southwest, in the areas that became Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and the southeastern area of California, there were fewer tribes due to the harsh living conditions in the Sonoran desert. The Havasupai people lived around the Grand Canyon. The Hualapai lived in the high desert of northern Arizona. The Yavapai lived in central Arizona. The Mojave lived around the Colorado River along the border area between the states of Arizona and California in the harsh Mojave desert. The Yuma also lived in the same area as the Mojave.
Athabascan, Algonkin, Shoshone, Yukian, Hokan and the Penutian tribes were in what became the state of California. Other tribes along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, from northern California north to Canada, were the Chinook, Hoh, Hopi, Puyallup, Skokomish, Skagit, Aleut and Yakima.
The Great Basin is the high plateau west of the major ranges of the Rocky Mountains in what became central and northern Nevada, western Utah, Idaho and parts of eastern Oregon and Washington State. The tribes of the Great Basin area were the Western Shoshone, the Goshute, the Ute, the Paiute and the Washoe.