Native American Tribe Names

In my Memorial Day post, I mentioned a lot of tribes whose members functioned as code talkers in World War I and II. This reminded me of something you might find interesting on tribal names, which I saw in “Earthsong,” a Heard Museum event catalog. 

Over the years, many tribes have come to be known by names given to them by someone else. Often, these names were changed by the government, the Spaniards, the French, or other tribes who found it convenient to use a different frame of reference. What tribe or group would ever like having their name changed for them? And the given names were sometimes disrespectful. 

Looking at the chart of American Indian tribes below, you’ll see that the names the tribes call themselves generally refer to the people or where the people live.


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  15. Greg White

    What I admire about the Native Americans and Canadians is the simple lives they lead getting what they need from nature living off the land.

  16. Chris SITM

    Um, I’d hate to say anything but Arapaho is actually a misheard crow word, it was “alapaho” and heard as Arapaho. It’s means “many tattoos” coming from a crow and arapaho

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