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Cultural regions of North American people at the time of European contact.
Early Indian languages in the US
Early Indian languages in Alaska

Ethnographers commonly classify indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits (called cultural areas).[1] The following list groups peoples by their region of origin, followed by the current location. See the individual article on each tribe or First Nation for a history of their movements. See the List of Native American Tribal Entities for the United States' official list of recognized Native American tribes. The regions are:


Canada, Greenland, and United States

Inuktitut dialect map



Distribution of Cree peoples


Northeast Woodlands

Great Basin


Northwest Coast




Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

The indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean are generally classified by language, environment, and cultural similarities.




South America



Western Amazon

Central Amazon

Eastern and Southern Amazon

Gran Chaco

  • Abipon (verdwenen)
  • Angaite (Angate)
  • Ayore (Morotoco, Moro, Zamuco)
  • Chamacoco (Ishiro)
  • Chané
  • Chiquitano (Chiquito, Tarapecosi)
  • Chorote
    • Manjuy (Iyo'wujwa Chorote)
    • Iyojwa'ja Chorote
  • Chulupí (Chulupe, Nivaclé, Ashluslay, Guentusé)
  • Guana (Kaskihá)
  • Guaraní
    • Bolivian Guarani
      • Chiriguano
      • Guarayo (East Bolivian Guarani)
    • Chiripá (Tsiripá, Ava)
    • Pai Tavytera (Pai, Montese, Ava)
    • Tapieté (Ñandeva)
    • Yuqui (Bia)
  • Mbayá (Kadiweu, Caduveo, Guaycurú)
  • Lengua (tribe) (Enxet)
    • North Lengua (Eenthlit)
    • South Lengua
  • Lulé (Pelé, Tonocoté)
  • Maca (Towolhi)
  • Mocoví (Mocobí)
  • Pilagá (Pilage Toba)
  • Sanapana (Quiativis)
  • Toba (Qom, Frentones)
  • Vilela
  • Wichí (Mataco)

Southern Cone


See also: Category:Indigenous languages of the Americas

Indigenous languages of the Americas (or Amerindian Languages) are spoken by indigenous peoples from the southern tip of South America to Alaska and Greenland, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families as well as many language isolates and unclassified languages. Many proposals to group these into higher-level families have been made. According to UNESCO, most of the indigenous American languages in North America are critically endangered and many of them are already extinct.[37]

(Spanish) Aridoamerican tribes by location
(Spanish) Mesoamerican tribes by location

Genetic classification

A language map with color. Branch lengths are scaled according to genetic distance, but for ease of visualization, a different scale is used on the left and right sides of the middle tick mark at the bottom of the figure. The tree was rooted along the branch connecting the Siberian populations and the Native American populations, and for convenience, the forced bootstrap score of 100% for this rooting is indicated twice. In the neighbor-joining tree , a reasonably well-supported cluster (86%) includes all non-Andean South American populations, together with the Andean-speaking Inga population from southern Colombia. Within this South American cluster, strong support exists for separate clustering of Chibchan–Paezan (97%) and Equatorial–Tucanoan (96%) speakers (except for the inclusion of the Equatorial–Tucanoan Wayuu population with its Chibchan–Paezan geographic neighbors, and the inclusion of Kaingang, the single Ge–Pano–Carib population, with its Equatorial–Tucanoan geographic neighbors). Within the Chibchan–Paezan and Equatorial–Tucanoan subclusters several subgroups have strong support, including Embera and Waunana (96%), Arhuaco and Kogi (100%), Cabecar and Guaymi (100%), and the two Ticuna groups (100%). When the tree-based clustering is repeated with alternate genetic distance measures, despite the high Mantel correlation coefficients between distance matrices (0.98, 0.98, and 0.99 for comparisons of the Nei and Reynolds matrices, the Nei and chord matrices, and the Reynolds and chord matrices, respectively), higher-level groupings tend to differ slightly or to have reduced bootstrap support.
A genetic tree showing the main neighbour-joining relationships within Amerindian populations.

The haplogroup most commonly associated with Indigenous Amerindian genetics is Haplogroup Q1a3a (Y-DNA).[38] Y-DNA, like (mtDNA), differs from other nuclear chromosomes in that the majority of the Y chromosome is unique and does not recombine during meiosis. This has the effect that the historical pattern of mutations can easily be studied.[39] The pattern indicates Indigenous Amerindians experienced two very distinctive genetic episodes; first with the initial-peopling of the Americas, and secondly with European colonization of the Americas.[40][41] The former is the determinant factor for the number of gene lineages and founding haplotypes present in today's Indigenous Amerindian populations.[40]

Human settlement of the New World occurred in stages from the Bering sea coast line, with an initial 20,000-year layover on Beringia for the founding population.[42][43] The micro-satellite diversity and distributions of the Y lineage specific to South America indicates that certain Amerindian populations have been isolated since the initial colonization of the region..[44] The Na-Dené, Inuit and Indigenous Alaskan populations exhibit haplogroup Q (Y-DNA) mutations, however are distinct from other indigenous Amerindians with various mtDNA mutations.[45][46][47] This suggests that the earliest migrants into the northern extremes of North America and Greenland derived from later populations.[48]


  1. ^ "Culture Areas Index". the Canadian Museum of Civilization. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Sturtevant and Trigger, ix
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sturtevant and Trigger, 241
  4. ^ a b c Sturtevant and Trigger, 255
  5. ^ a b c d Sturtevant and Trigger, 198
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sturtevant and Trigger, 161
  7. ^ Sturtevant and Trigger, 96
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h D'Azevedo, ix
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Pritzker, 230
  10. ^ D'Azevedo, 161-2
  11. ^ a b c d e D'Azevedo, 306
  12. ^ a b D'Azevedo, 335
  13. ^ a b c d e f D'Azevedo, 339
  14. ^ a b c d D'Azevedo, 340
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sturtevant and Fogelson, 374
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am Sturtevant and Fogelson, 69
  17. ^ a b c d e f Sturtevant and Fogelson, 205
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Sturtevant and Fogelson, ix
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sturtevant and Fogelson, 214
  20. ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 673
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sturtevant and Fogelson, 81-82
  22. ^ a b c Sturtevant and Fogelson, 315
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Sturtevant, 617
  24. ^ a b c d e Frank, Andrew K. Indian Removal. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 10 July 2009)
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sturtevant and Fogelson, 293
  26. ^ a b Sturtevant and Fogelson, 188
  27. ^ a b Sturtevant and Fogelson, 598-9
  28. ^ a b Sturtevant and Fogelson, 290
  29. ^ a b Sturtevant and Fogelson, 291
  30. ^ a b c Sturtevant and Fogelson, 302
  31. ^ Haliwa-Saponi Tribe. (retrieved 10 July 2009)
  32. ^ Hahn 1993
  33. ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 78, 668
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Hahn 1996, 5-13
  35. ^ Hann 2003:11
  36. ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 190
  37. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:
  38. ^ "Y-Chromosome Evidence for Differing Ancient Demographic Histories in the Americas" (pdf). Department of Biology, University College, London; Departamento de Gene´tica, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil; Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientı´ficas, Caracas, Venezuela; Departamento de Gene´tica, Universidade Federal do Parana´, Curitiba, Brazil; 5Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; 6Laboratorio de Gene´tica Humana, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota´; Victoria Hospital, Prince Albert, Canada; Subassembly of Medical Sciences, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Laboratorio de Gene´tica Molecular, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellı´n, Colombia; Universite´ de Montreal. University College London 73:524–539. 2003. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  39. ^ Orgel L (2004). "Prebiotic chemistry and the origin of the RNA world" (pdf). Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol 39 (2): 99–123. doi:10.1080/10409230490460765. PMID 15217990. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  40. ^ a b "Learn about Y-DNA Haplogroup Q" (Verbal tutorial possible). Genebase Systems. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-21. "Haplogroups are defined by unique mutation events such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These SNPs mark the branch of a haplogroup, and indicate that all descendents of that haplogroup at one time shared a common ancestor. The Y-DNA SNP mutations were passed from father to son over thousands of years. Over time, additional SNPs occur within a haplogroup, leading to new lineages. These new lineages are considered subclades of the haplogroup. Each time a new mutation occurs, there is a new branch in the haplogroup, and therefore a new subclade. Haplogroup Q, possibly the youngest of the 20 Y-chromosome haplogroups, originated with the SNP mutation M242 in a man from Haplogroup P that likely lived in Siberia approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years before present" 
  41. ^ Wells, Spencer; Read, Mark (Digitised online by Google books). The Journey of Man - A Genetic Odyssey. Random House. ISBN 0812971469. Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  42. ^ First Americans Endured 20,000-Year Layover - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News,, retrieved 2009-11-18, "Archaeological evidence, in fact, recognizes that people started to leave Beringia for the New World around 40,000 years ago, but rapid expansion into North America didn't occur until about 15,000 years ago, when the ice had literally broken"  page 2
  43. ^ Than, Ker (2008). "New World Settlers Took 20,000-Year Pit Stop". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2010-01-23. "Over time descendants developed a unique culture—one that was different from the original migrants' way of life in Asia but which contained seeds of the new cultures that would eventually appear throughout the Americas" 
  44. ^ "Summary of knowledge on the subclades of Haplogroup Q". Genebase Systems. 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  45. ^ Ruhlen M (November 1998). "The origin of the Na-Dene". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95 (23): 13994–6. PMID 9811914. PMC 25007. 
  46. ^ Zegura SL, Karafet TM, Zhivotovsky LA, Hammer MF (January 2004). "High-resolution SNPs and microsatellite haplotypes point to a single, recent entry of Native American Y chromosomes into the Americas". Molecular Biology and Evolution 21 (1): 164–75. doi:10.1093/molbev/msh009. PMID 14595095. 
  47. ^ "mtDNA Variation among Greenland Eskimos. The Edge of the Beringian Expansion". Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research,University of Cambridge, Cambridge, University of Hamburg, Hamburg. 2000. Retrieved 2009-11-22. "The relatively lower coalescence time of the entire haplogroup A2 including the shared sub-arctic branches A2b (Siberians and Inuit) and A2a (Eskimos and Na-Dené) is probably due to secondary expansions of haplogroup A2 from the Beringia area, which would have averaged the overall internal variation of haplogroup A2 in North America." 
  48. ^ "Native American Mitochondrial DNA Analysis Indicates That the Amerind and the Nadene Populations Were Founded by Two Independent Migrations". Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Departments of Biochemistry and Anthropology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Genetics Society of America. Vol 130, 153-162. Retrieved 2009-11-28. "The divergence time for the Nadene portion of the HaeIII np 663 lineage was about 6,000-10,000 years. Hence, the ancestral Nadene migrated from Asia independently and considerably more recently than the progenitors of the Amerinds" 


  • D'Azevedo, Warren L., Volume Editor. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 11: Great Basin. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1986. ISBN 978-0160045813.
  • Hann, John H. "The Mayaca and Jororo and Missions to Them", in McEwan, Bonnie G. ed. The Spanish Missions of "La Florida". Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. 1993. ISBN 0-8130-1232-5.
  • Hahn, John H. A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 1996. ISBN 0-8130-1424-7.
  • Hann, John H. (2003). Indians of Central and South Florida: 1513-1763. University Press of Florida. ISBN0-8130-2645-8
  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0195138771.
  • Sturtevant, William C., general editor and Bruce G. Trigger, volume editor. Handbook of North American Indians: Northeast. Volume 15. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978. ASIN B000NOYRRA.
  • Sturtevant, William C., general editor and Raymond D. Fogelson, volume editor. Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast. Volume 14. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004. ISBN 0-16-072300-0.


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