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Athapascan Family 

 Native American Nations | Linguistic Families                    

  • Athapascas, Gallatin in Trans. and Coll. Am. Antiq. Soc., II, 16, 305, 1836. Prichard, Phys. Hist. Mankind, V, 375, 1847. Gallatin in Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., II, pt. 1, xcix, 77, 1848. Berghaus (1845), Physik. Atlas, map 17, 1848. Ibid., 1852. Turner in “Literary World,” 281, April 17, 1852 (refers Apache and Navajo to this family on linguistic evidence).
  • Athapaccas, Gallatin in Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, III, 401, 1853. (Evident misprint.)
  • Athapascan, Turner in Pac. R. R. Rep., III, pt. 3, 84, 1856. (Mere mention of family; Apaches and congeners belong to this family, as shown by him in “Literary World.” Hoopah also asserted to be Athapascan.)
  • Athabaskans, Latham, Nat. Hist. Man, 302, 1850. (Under Northern Athabaskans, includes Chippewyans Proper, Beaver Indians, Daho-dinnis, Strong Bows, Hare Indians, Dog-ribs, Yellow Knives, Carriers. Under Southern Athabaskans, includes (p. 308) Kwalioqwa, Tlatskanai, Umkwa.)
  • Athabaskan, Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., 65, 96, 1856. Buschmann (1854), Der athapaskische Sprachstamm, 250, 1856 (Hoopahs, Apaches, and Navajoes included). Latham, Opuscula, 333, 1860. Latham, El. Comp. Phil., 388, 1862. Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., II, 31-50, 1846 (indicates the coalescence of Athabascan family with Esquimaux). Latham (1844), in Jour. Eth. Soc. Lond., I, 161, 1848 (Nagail and Taculli referred to Athabascan). Scouler (1846), in Jour. Eth. Soc. Lond., I, 230, 1848. Latham, Opuscula, 257, 259, 276, 1860. Keane, App. to Stanford’s Comp. (Cent. and So. Am.), 460, 463, 1878.
  • Kinai, Gallatin in Trans. and Coll. Am. Antiq. Soc., II, 14, 305, 1836 (Kinai and Ugaljachmutzi; considered to form a distinct family, though affirmed to have affinities with western Esquimaux and with Athapascas). Prichard, Phys. Hist. Mankind, V, 440-448, 1847 (follows Gallatin; also affirms a relationship to Aztec). Gallatin in Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., II, pt. 1, 77, 1848.
  • Kenay, Latham in Proc. Philolog. Soc. Lond., II, 32-34, 1846. Latham, Opuscula, 275, 1860. Latham, Elements Comp. Phil., 389, 1862 (referred to Esquimaux stock).
  • Kinætzi, Prichard, Phys. Hist. Mankind, V, 441, 1847 (same as his Kinai above).
  • Kenai, Gallatin in Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., II, xcix, 1848 (see Kinai above). Buschmann, Spuren der aztek. Sprache, 695, 1856 (refers it to Athapaskan).
  • Northern, Scouler in Jour. Roy. Geog. Soc. Lond., XI, 218, 1841. (Includes Atnas, Kolchans, and Kenáïes of present family.)
  • Haidah, Scouler, ibid., 224 (same as his Northern family).
  • Chepeyans, Prichard, Phys. Hist. Mankind, V, 375, 1847 (same as Athapascas above).
  • Tahkali-Umkwa, Hale in U.S. Expl. Exp., VI, 198, 201, 569, 1846 (“a branch of the great Chippewyan, or Athapascan, stock;” includes Carriers, Qualioguas, Tlatskanies, Umguas). Gallatin, after Hale in Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., II, pt. 1, 9, 1848.Digothi, Berghaus (1845), Physik. Atlas, map 17, 1848. Digothi, Loucheux, ibid. 1852.
  • Lipans, Latham, Nat. Hist. Man, 349, 1850 (Lipans (Sipans) between Rio Arkansas and Rio Grande).
  • Tototune, Latham, Nat. Hist. Man, 325, 1850 (seacoast south of the Saintskla).
  • Ugaljachmutzi, Gallatin in Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, III, 402, 1853 (“perhaps Athapascas”).
  • Umkwa, Latham in Proc.-Philolog. Soc. Lond., VI, 72, 1854 (a single tribe). Latham, Opuscula, 300, 1860.
  • Tahlewah. Gibbs in Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, III, 422, 1853 (a single tribe). Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., 76, 1856 (a single tribe). Latham. Opuscula, 342, 1860.
  • Tolewa, Gatschet in Mag. Am. Hist., 163, 1877 (vocab. from Smith River, Oregon; affirmed to be distinct from any neighboring tongue). Gatschet in Beach, Ind. Miscellany, 438, 1877.
  • Hoo-pah, Gibbs in Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, III, 422, 1853 (tribe on Lower Trinity, California).
  • Hoopa, Powers in Overland Monthly, 135, August, 1872.
  • Hú-pâ, Powers in Cont. N.A. Eth., III, 72, 1877 (affirmed to be Athapascan).
  • Tinneh, Dall in Proc. Am. Ass. A. S., XVIII, 269, 1869 (chiefly Alaskan tribes). Dall, Alaska and its Resources, 428, 1870. Dall in Cont. N.A. Eth., I, 24, 1877. Bancroft, Native Races, III, 562, 583, 603, 1882.
  • Tinné, Gatschet in Mag. Am, Hist., 165, 1877 (special mention of Hoopa, Rogue River, Umpqua.) Gatschet in Beach, Ind. Misc., 440, 1877. Gatschet in Geog. Surv. W. 100th M., VII, 406, 1879. Tolmie and Dawson, Comp. Vocabs., 62, 1884. Berghaus, Physik. Atlas, map 72, 1887.
  • Tinney, Keane, App. to Stanford’s Comp. (Cent. and So. Am.), 460, 463, 1878.
  • Klamath, Keane, App. to Stanford’s Comp. (Cent. and So. Am.), 475, 1878; or Lutuami, (Lototens and Tolewahs of his list belong here.)
    Derivation: From the lake of the same name; signifying, according to Lacombe, “place of hay and reeds.”
As defined by Gallatin, the area occupied by this great family is included in a line drawn from the mouth of the Churchill or Missinippi River to its source; thence along the ridge which separates the north branch of the Saskatchewan from those of the Athapascas to the Rocky Mountains; and thence northwardly till within a hundred miles of the Pacific Ocean, in latitude 52° 30'.

The only tribe within the above area excepted by Gallatin as of probably a different stock was the Quarrelers or Loucheux, living at the mouth of Mackenzie River. This tribe, however, has since been ascertained to be Athapascan.

The Athapascan family thus occupied almost the whole of British Columbia and of Alaska, and was, with the exception of the Eskimo, by whom they were cut off on nearly all sides from the ocean, the most northern family in North America.

Since Gallatin’s time the history of this family has been further elucidated by the discovery on the part of Hale and Turner that isolated branches of the stock have become established in Oregon, California, and along the southern border of the United States.

The boundaries of the Athapascan family, as now understood, are best given under three primary groups—Northern, Pacific, and Southern.

Northern group.—This includes all the Athapascan tribes of British North America and Alaska. In the former region the Athapascans occupy most of the western interior, being bounded on the north by the Arctic Eskimo, who inhabit a narrow strip of coast; on the east by the Eskimo of Hudson’s Bay as far south as Churchill River, south of which river the country is occupied by Algonquian tribes. On the south the Athapascan tribes extended to the main ridge between the Athapasca and Saskatchewan Rivers, where they met Algonquian tribes; west of this area they were bounded on the south by Salishan tribes, the limits of whose territory on Fraser River and its tributaries appear on Tolmie and Dawson’s map of 1884. On the west, in British Columbia, the Athapascan tribes nowhere reach the coast, being cut off by the Wakashan, Salishan, and Chimmesyan families.

The interior of Alaska is chiefly occupied by tribes of this family. Eskimo tribes have encroached somewhat upon the interior along the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Kowak, and Noatak Rivers, reaching on the Yukon to somewhat below Shageluk Island,7 and on the Kuskokwim nearly or quite to Kolmakoff Redoubt.8 Upon the two latter they reach quite to their heads.9 A few Kutchin tribes are (or have been) north of the Porcupine and Yukon Rivers, but until recently it has not been known that they extended north beyond the Yukon and Romanzoff Mountains. Explorations of Lieutenant Stoney, in 1885, establish the fact that the region to the north of those mountains is occupied by Athapascan tribes, and the map is colored accordingly. Only in two places in Alaska do the Athapascan tribes reach the coast—the K´naia-khotana, on Cook’s Inlet, and the Ahtena, of Copper River.

Pacific group.—Unlike the tribes of the Northern group, most of those of the Pacific group have removed from their priscan habitats since the advent of the white race. The Pacific group embraces the following: Kwalhioqua, formerly on Willopah River, Washington, near the Lower Chinook;10 Owilapsh, formerly between Shoalwater Bay and the heads of the Chehalis River, Washington, the territory of these two tribes being practically continuous; Tlatscanai, formerly on a small stream on the northwest side of Wapatoo Island.11 Gibbs was informed by an old Indian that this tribe “formerly owned the prairies on the Tsihalis at the mouth of the Skukumchuck, but, on the failure of game, left the country, crossed the Columbia River, and occupied the mountains to the south”—a statement of too uncertain character to be depended upon; the Athapascan tribes now on the Grande Ronde and Siletz Reservations, Oregon,12 whose villages on and near the coast extended from Coquille River southward to the California line, including, among others, the Upper Coquille, Sixes, Euchre, Creek, Joshua, Tutu tûnne, and other “Rogue River” or “Tou-touten bands,” Chasta Costa, Galice Creek, Naltunne tûnne and Chetco villages;13 the Athapascan villages formerly on Smith River and tributaries, California;14 those villages extending southward from Smith River along the California coast to the mouth of Klamath River;15 the Hupâ villages or “clans” formerly on Lower Trinity River, California;16 the Kenesti or Wailakki (2), located as follows: “They live along the western slope of the Shasta Mountains, from North Eel River, above Round Valley, to Hay Fork; along Eel and Mad Rivers, extending down the latter about to Low Gap; also on Dobbins and Larrabie Creeks;”17 and Saiaz, who “formerly occupied the tongue of land jutting down between Eel River and Van Dusen’s Fork.”18

Southern group.—Includes the Navajo, Apache, and Lipan. Engineer José Cortez, one of the earliest authorities on these tribes, writing in 1799, defines the boundaries of the Lipan and Apache as extending north and south from 29° N. to 36° N., and east and west from 99° W. to 114° W.; in other words from central Texas nearly to the Colorado River in Arizona, where they met tribes of the Yuman stock. The Lipan occupied the eastern part of the above territory, extending in Texas from the Comanche country (about Red River) south to the Rio Grande.19 More recently both Lipan and Apache have gradually moved southward into Mexico where they extend as far as Durango.20

The Navajo, since first known to history, have occupied the country on and south of the San Juan River in northern New Mexico and Arizona and extending into Colorado and Utah. They were surrounded on all sides by the cognate Apache except upon the north, where they meet Shoshonean tribes.

Principal Tribes

A. Northern group:

Koyukukhotana. Kutchin.

Slave. Sluacus-tinneh.
Tahl-tan (1).

B. Pacific group:

Chasta Costa.
Dakube tede (on Applegate Creek).
Euchre Creek.
Kalts´erea tûnne.
Kenesti or Wailakki. Kwalhioqua.
Micikqwûtme tûnne.
Mikono tûnne.

Taltûctun tûde (on Galice Creek).
Tcêmê (Joshuas).
Tcetlestcan tûnne.
Tutu tûnne.

C. Southern group:


Pinal Coyotero.

Population.—The present number of the Athapascan family is about 32,899, of whom about 8,595, constituting the Northern group, are in Alaska and British North America, according to Dall, Dawson, and the Canadian Indian-Report for 1888; about 895, comprising the Pacific group, are in Washington, Oregon, and California; and about 23,409, belonging to the Southern group, are in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Indian Territory. Besides these are the Lipan and some refugee Apache, who are in Mexico. These have not been included in the above enumeration, as there are no means of ascertaining their number.

Northern group.—This may be said to consist of the following:

Ah-tena (1877)  364?  
Ai-yan (1888) 250  
Al-ta-tin (Sicannie) estimated (1888)  500  
  of whom there are at Fort Halkett (1887) 73  
  of whom there are at Fort Liard (1887) 78  
Chippewyan, Yellow Knives, with a few Slave and Dog Rib at Fort Resolution 469  
Dog Rib at Fort Norman 133  
Dog Rib, Slave, and Yellow Knives at Fort Rae 657  
Hare at Fort Good Hope 364  
Hare at Fort Norman 103  
Kai-yuh-kho-tána (1877), Koyukukhotána (1877), and Unakhotána (1877) 2,000?  
K´nai-a Khotána (1880) 250?  
Kutchin and Bastard Loucheux at Fort Good Hope  95  
Kutchin at Peel River and La Pierre’s House 337  
Kutchin on the Yukon (six tribes)  842  
Nahanie at Fort Good Hope 8  
Nahanie at Fort Halkett (including Mauvais Monde, Bastard Nahanie, and Mountain Indians) 332  
Nahanie at Fort Liard  38  
Nahanie at Fort Norman 43 421
Nahanie at Fort Simpson and Big Island (Hudson Bay Company’s Territory)  87  
  Slave, Dog Rib, and Hare at Fort Simpson and Big Island (Hudson Bay Company’s Territory) 658  
  Slave at Fort Liard  281  
  Slave at Fort Norman 84  
  Tenán Kutchin (1877) 700? 8,595?

To the Pacific Group may be assigned the following:

Hupa Indians, on Hoopa Valley Reservation, California  468  
Rogue River Indians at Grande Ronde Reservation, Oregon  47  
Siletz Reservation, Oregon (about one-half the Indians thereon) 300?  
Umpqua at Grande Ronde Reservation, Oregon 80 895?

Southern Group, consisting of Apache, Lipan, and Navajo:

Apache children at Carlisle, Pennsylvania  142  
Apache prisoners at Mount Vernon Barracks, Alabama  356  
Coyotero Apache (San Carlos Reservation)  733?  
Jicarilla Apache (Southern Ute Reservation, Colorado)  808  
Lipan with Tonkaway on Oakland Reserve, Indian Territory 15?  
Mescalero Apache (Mescalero Reservation, New Mexico)  513  
Na-isha Apache (Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Reservation, Indian Territory)  326  
Navajo (most on Navajo Reservation, Arizona and New Mexico; 4 at Carlisle, Pennsylvania)  17,208  
San Carlos Apache (San Carlos Reservation, Arizona) 1,352?  
White Mountain Apache (San Carlos Reservation, Arizona)  36  
White Mountain Apache (under military at Camp Apache, Arizona)  1,920 23,409?

Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891

Linguistic Families


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