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Biggest Native American Tribe In Every U.S. State

Posted By BrittanyLCerny May 19th, 2022 Last Updated on: May 19th, 2022

There's a lot of buzz over which Native American tribe has the biggest population, but do you know the biggest tribe in every U.S state?

Before European colonization, there were twice as many, if not more, Native people living in North America compared to today’s population of about 6.79 million. As we all know, after 1492, the Native population declined significantly. Roughly 90 percent of the population was wiped out before 1600 due to diseases brought into the continent by colonizers, constant war, forced displacement, and outright murder. Eventually, things settled, and the indigenous population recovered, to some extent.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, indigenous people make up about 2.9% of the U.S. population, encompassing 574 federally recognized tribes. 

A few fun facts for you:

  • The tribe with the largest landmass in America is the Navajo Nation, which also has the largest tribal population.  
  • The Cherokee tribe has the largest Native population in 22 states and is the second-largest tribe in America.  
  • The smallest tribe in America is the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians in California. 
  • Alaska, Oklahoma, and New Mexico have the top three highest Native populations per capita. 

Take a look through this comprehensive list of the biggest Native American tribe in each U.S. state. It is interesting to see the Native-to-general population ratio and which tribe dominates in each state. Some states you may have expected, but others may surprise you.

Alternatively, if you're curious, check out our posts on the biggest Native American tribes overall and the 10 U.S. states with the biggest Native American populations.

Without further ado, here is the biggest Native American tribe in every U.S. state.
(Note: the following numbers are estimations based on the most current data available to the public.)


Biggest Native American Tribe In Every U.S. State

Alabama Biggest Tribe

Alabama 

State population: 4,903,185 

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 9,035

In Alabama, there is not one but four state-recognized Cherokee groups. These include the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama, the United Cherokee Ani-Yun-Wiya Nation, the Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama, and the Cher-O-Creek Intratribal Indians, Inc.

Alaska - Biggest Tribes

Alaska 

State population: 731,545

Biggest tribe: Yup'ik

Yup'ik population: 34,675

Alaska has the highest number of indigenous people per capita. The state’s population is under one million people, and the most prominent tribe (Yup’ik) has almost 35,000 members. According to Indian Affairs, “More than 180,000 tribal members make up the 229 federally recognized tribes under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Regional Office.”

Arizona Tribes

Arizona 

State population: 7,278,717 

Biggest tribe: Navajo

Navajo population: 152,261

Almost all tribal members of the Navajo Nation live in the Southwest, which includes Arizona. Their land is a bucket-list item for many travelers, as it has historical and natural significance and beauty.

Arkansas - State

Arkansas 

State population: 3,017,804

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 8,449

Did you know that “the founding of Fort Smith primarily arose as a way for the government to manage attacks on the Cherokees by the Osages?” Arkansas has multiple tribes living on its beautiful land, and the Cherokee tribe is the largest.

California Tribes

California 

State population: 39,512,223

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 22,124

California has the second-largest population of Cherokee people after Oklahoma.

Colorado Rockies

Colorado 

State population: 5,758,736

Biggest tribe: Navajo

Navajo population: 8,320

According to the Ten Tribes Partnership, “The Navajo ancestral lands are located within and near the four sacred Mountains of Blanca Peak in Colorado, Mt. Taylor in New Mexico, San Francisco Peaks in Arizona, and Hesperus Peak in Colorado as illustrated in the Navajo Nation flag.”

CN Tribal

Connecticut 

State population: 3,565,287

Biggest tribe: Mashantucket Pequot Tribe

Mashantucket Pequot Tribe population: 1,086

Connecticut has five state-recognized tribes, and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe is the largest. Connecticut is a relatively small state with a small Indigenous population.

Delaware tribal

Delaware 

State population: 973,764

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 688

The Cherokee population in Delaware may seem tiny…but the state itself is only 96 miles long!

Florida Seminole

Florida

State population: 21,477,737

Biggest tribe: Seminole

Seminole population: 4,000

The state’s largest tribe is why Florida State’s team name is the Seminoles. While the team’s name has been under scrutiny in the media, the Seminole tribe stands behind it.

biggest tribe Georgia

Georgia

State population: 10,617,423

Biggest tribe: Muscogee Creek

Muscogee Creek population: 2,800 

While many of Georgia’s Native people were Cherokee, they were driven out of the state during the Trail of Tears. Currently, the largest tribe in Georgia is Muscogee Creek. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, only .3% of the population in Georgia identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Hawaii   

Hawaii 

State population: 1,415,872

Biggest tribe: Native Hawaiians

Native Hawaiians: 142,997

Though Native Hawaiians are neither a tribe nor Native Americans, they are the biggest indigenous group on the islands. The traditional name of the Hawaiian people is Kānaka Maoli. The original Hawaiians aren’t split up into tribes; they are simply called the Indigenous Polynesian people of the Hawaiian Islands.

Idaho Biggest Tribe in Every State

Idaho

State population: 1,787,065

Biggest tribe: Nez Perce

Nez Perce population: 3,500

The Nez Perce Tribe's reservation has the largest population and land area. It is a federally recognized tribe in the northern part of central Idaho.

Illinois - Biggest Tribe

Illinois

State population: 12,671,821

Biggest tribe: N/A

Chicago has over 175 tribes representing the city, which rests on ancestral land. However, it's unclear which one is the most prevalent.

Indiana

Indiana 

State population: 6,732,219

Biggest tribe: Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi population: 5,000

Only two federally recognized tribes have land in Indiana: the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. However, there are still thousands of individuals who live in Indiana from federally recognized tribes.

Iowa Biggest Tribe

Iowa

State population: 3,155,070

Biggest tribe: Sioux

Sioux population: 2,500

The estimated number of Native Americans and Alaska Natives that live in Iowa as of 2019 is 17,060. The Sioux tribe makes up about 14.6% of the Native population in Iowa, with the largest group categorized as “Other Native American Tribes.”

Kansas

Kansas 

State population: 2,913,314

Biggest tribe: Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation population

Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation population: 1,760

Kansas is home to four Native American reservations: Iowa, Kickapoo, Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation, and Sac and Fox.

Kentucky

Kentucky 

State population: 4,467,673

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 3,198

Kentucky comprises Shawnee, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Osage land, yet the state does not have many Native Americans living there.

Louisiana

Louisiana 

State population: 4,648,794

Biggest tribe: United Houma Nation

United Houma Nation population: 17,000

The United Houma Nation is a state-recognized tribe whose members span six parishes. They have not given up the fight to become a federally recognized tribe.

Maine Biggest Tribe

Maine 

State population: 1,344,212

Biggest tribe: Wabanaki

Wabanaki population: 9,000

There are four primary Indian tribes in Maine: the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy. Together, they are known as the Wabanaki, “People of the Dawnland.”

Maryland biggest tribe

Maryland

State population: 6,045,680

Biggest tribe: N/A

More than 120,000 individuals identify as American Indian in Maryland, according to the 2020 census. There are three federally recognized tribes in Maryland: the Accohannock Indian Tribe, Piscataway Conoy Tribe, and Piscataway Indian Nation.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts

State population: 6,892,503 

Biggest tribe: Mashpee Wampanoag

Mashpee Wampanoag population: 2,940

The Mashpee Wampanoag and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes mainly inhabit Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) lives in Martha's Vineyard. A December article in the Washington Post celebrates the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe winning their ancestral home back.

Michigan - Tribe

Michigan

State population: 9,986,857

Biggest tribe: Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians: 44,000

The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians (pronounced “Soo Saint Marie”) is the largest in Michigan. Those who live on the reservation reside in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Minnesota

Minnesota

State population: 5,639,632

Biggest tribe: White Earth Band (Chippewa)

White Earth Band (Chippewa) population: 130,000

In Northern Minnesota, Natives of the White Earth Band tribe reside. Many tribal members prefer to identify as Anishinaabe or Ojibwe rather than Chippewa.

MS tribes

Mississippi

State population: 2,976,149

Biggest tribe: Choctaw

Choctaw population: 11,000

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the only federally recognized tribe in the state. Choctaw lands span 35,000 acres and ten different counties.

Missouri Arch

Missouri 

State population: 6,137,428

Biggest tribe: N/A

The name ‘Missouri’ means “one who has dugout canoes,” which comes from the Native Missouri people. While there currently are no federally recognized tribes in Missouri, many individuals from multiple tribes inhabit the state. The original Missouri tribe escaped to Oklahoma during the Removal and lives there today.

Montana

Montana

State population: 1,068,778

Biggest tribe: Blackfeet

Blackfeet population: 17,321

While the Crow Indian Reservation encompasses the largest area of land in Montana (2.2 million acres), the Blackfeet Indian Reservation holds over 17,000 members.

Nebraska

State population: 1,934,408

Biggest tribe: Omaha tribe

Omaha tribe population: 6,000

The Omaha Reservation lies on both land in Nebraska and Iowa, and the Omaha tribe is federally recognized. The small city of Omaha, NE, has a name that means “upstream people.”

Nevada Native American Tribes

Nevada

State population: 3,080,156

Biggest tribe: Te-Moak Tribe

Te-Moak Tribe population: 2,096

There are 20 federally recognized tribes in Nevada, consisting of 27 separate reservations, bands, colonies, and community councils. The Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians is the largest by population and is composed of four bands.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

State population: 1,359,711

Biggest tribe: Abenaki Nation

Abenaki Nation population: less than 1,000 

The Native population in New Hampshire is small, just like the state. And there are no federally recognized tribes.

New Jersey

State population: 8,882,190

Biggest tribe: Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape

Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape population: 3,000

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe is state-recognized but not federally recognized. Its members live in both New Jersey and Delaware. 

ABQ

New Mexico

State population: 2,096,829

Biggest tribe: Navajo

Navajo population: 106,800

The Navajo Nation is the second-largest tribe in America. Almost 300,000 Navajo tribal members live in America, with about one-third residing in New Mexico.

New York

New York

State population: 19,453,561

Biggest tribe: Iroquois

Iroquois population: 20,932 

The Iroquois once referred to a confederacy of five tribes: Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, Oneida, and Mohawk, located between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls.  Another tribe joined them, the Tuscarora people, and we now know these tribes as The Six Nations.

North Carolina

North Carolina

State population: 10,488,084

Biggest tribe: Lumbee

Lumbee population: 66,255

The Lumbee tribe, which is state-recognized, is also the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River.

North Dakota

North Dakota

State population: 762,062

Biggest tribe: Chippewa

Chippewa population: 30,000

According to ND Tourism, “The tribes which have had a great influence on today's North Dakota are the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara; the Yanktonai, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Hunkpapa and other Dakota/Lakota/Nakota (commonly known as the Sioux) tribes; and the Chippewa and Metis.” Although the largest in population is the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

Ohio Native

Ohio

State population: 11,689,100

Biggest tribe: N/A

Currently, Ohio does not have any federally recognized tribes, although there are a few who are fighting for this recognition.

OK Tribes

Oklahoma

State population: 3,956,971

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee Nation population: 141,000

The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the United States, and Oklahoma has the largest number of Cherokee tribal members living within its borders. “The Cherokee Nation is committed to protecting our inherent sovereignty, preserving and promoting Cherokee culture, language and values, and improving the quality of life for the next seven generations of Cherokee Nation citizens.”

Oregon Native American

Oregon

State population: 4,217,737

Biggest tribe: Klamath

Klamath population: 5,600

There are nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon: the Burns Paiute Tribe; the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians; the Coquille Indian Tribe; the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians; the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; the Klamath Tribes; the Confederated Tribes of Siletz; the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Penn Tribes

Pennsylvania

State population: 12,801,989

Biggest tribe: N/A

The largest Pennsylvania Indian tribes are the Delaware, Susquehannock, Shawnee, and Iroquois.

Rhode Island

State population: 1,059,361

Biggest tribe: Narragansett

Narragansett population: 2,400

According to the Rhode Island College Library, “The Narragansett Indians are descendants of the aboriginal people of the State of Rhode Island. Archaeological evidence and oral history of the Narragansett People establish their existence in the region more than 30,000 years ago.”

Charleston

South Carolina

State population: 5,148,714

Biggest tribe: Catawba

Catawba population: 3,300

The Catawba tribe is currently the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina, although there are multiple state-recognized tribes. The tribe’s land is in York County.

South Dakota Tribes

South Dakota

State population: 884,659

Biggest tribe: Sioux

Sioux population: 60,691

The 2020 census shows that approximately 75,000 Native people live in South Dakota. The Sioux tribe is the largest, making up the majority of the Native population within the state.

TB TRIBES

Tennessee 

State population: 6,829,174

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 5,698

The Cherokee tribe by far is the largest populated group in Tennessee. There are less than 18,000 Native Americans in the state, according to the 2020 Census.

Texas

Texas

State population: 28,995,881

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 18,406

 Texas has the fifth-highest Native American population in the country. While there are many populous tribes within the state, the Cherokee Nation dominates in numbers.

Utah

Utah

State population: 3,205,958

Biggest tribe: Navajo 

Navajo population: 15,816

The five main tribal groups in Utah are the Utes, Goshutes, Paiutes, Shoshone, and Navajo. The Navajo Nation rules the Southwest, where the majority of the tribe lives; it is the largest Native American tribe in the United States as of 2021.

Vermont

Vermont 

State population: 623,989

Biggest tribe: Abenaki

Abenaki population: 2,000

The Abenaki people live in both Vermont and New Hampshire, mostly around Lake Champlain. There are four Vermont state-recognized Western Abenaki tribes.

Virginia Biggest Native Tribe

Virginia

State population: 8,535,519

Biggest tribe: Monacan Indian Nation

Monacan Indian Nation population: 1,600

The Monacan tribe is quite active in Virginia and opened a free, full-service healthcare facility for their communities in 2021.  

Washington

Washington 

State population: 7,614,893

Biggest tribe: Puyallup Tribe

Puyallup Tribe population: 

Washington state has 29 federally recognized tribes, each with its own tribal government. The Puyallup tribe is the largest by population; its name means “the generous people”.

West Virginia

West Virginia

State population: 1,792,147

Biggest tribe: Cherokee

Cherokee population: 1,630

Currently, the Cherokee, Shawnee, Tutelo, and Saponi tribes inhabit West Virginia. The largest out of the four is the Cherokee tribe.  

Wisc

Wisconsin

State population: 5,822,434

Biggest tribe: Oneida

Oneida Nation population: 16,567

Wisconsin has 11 federally recognized tribes within its borders. The Oneida Nation reservation spans two counties.

Wyoming

Wyoming

State population: 578,759

Biggest tribe: Arapaho

Arapaho population: 1,829 

The Wind River reservation in Wyoming is one of the largest (by landmass) in the country; the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho live there. 

The information within this article may change over time based on population growth rate and movement between states.

 

 


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Sandi Fioti

I found this so interesting. I live in Idaho and thought the Shoshone was the largest tribe. I do get infuriated to see the different tribes who aren’t federally recognized. Good Lord, they were here long before federal government. I lived in Arizona for years and there were some tribes I had never heard of. My husband worked with a member of the Popago. He was a wonderful man. So kind and a great sense of humor. Anyway thank you for the article. I enjoyed reading and learning.

Gary Overstreet

Hard to believe the Cherokees are the biggest tribe in several states.How many meet the criteria to be federally recognized? You can have almost no Indian Blood and still be Cherokee.With them it’s all about numbers. Oh,did I mention my Great,Great, Great, Great, Grandmother might have been 1/64 Cherokee? Maybe I should be counted for California!

Sherrie B. Ware-Lopez

Gary Overstreet, my Cherokee ancestors came from Alabama & Tennessee. I am a member of a Alabama State Recognized tribe. I have spent my life back & forth between Tx. & Ok. because some of them eventually made their way to Ok. & Tx.

I grew up with my Cherokee great – grandmother telling me the stories of our people. I was lucky enough to have her till after I was grown & married. My children & I have always gone to Powwows & made Native crafts. We have always been welcomed by the Cherokee of Ok. & Texas, as well as other tribes – even though I was green eyed & blonde. And I have always been told: “Just one drop of Cherokee blood makes you Cherokee.” I get no government help, no free medical, etc. But that doesn’t stop me from being proud of my Ancestors.

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