Cover image for Encyclopedia of native tribes of North America
Encyclopedia of native tribes of North America
Johnson, Michael, 1937 April 22- , author.
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Richmond Hill, Ontario : Firefly Books Ltd. ; Buffalo, New York : Firefly Books (U.S.) Inc., [2014]
Physical Description:
336 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 31 cm
Classification of Indian languages -- Tribes and cultures. Northeastern Woodlands ; Southeastern Woodlands ; Plains and Prairie ; Plateau ; Great Basin ; California ; Southwest ; Northwest Coast ; Subarctic ; Arctic -- Maps detailing the First Nations of Canada and native people of Alaska -- Indian today -- Native populations -- Museums.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E76.2 .J62 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Praise for the first edition:

"A model of excellence in the art of reference volume publishing ... Every public and school library ... should acquire this treasure. It will remain the standard for many years to come."
-- Dr. James A. Clifton, Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University

"This substantial reference remains one of the most elaborately illustrated books on Native Americans now in print... Highly recommended."
-- Library Journal

This superb, fully illustrated reference offers the most up-to-date and essential facts on the identity, kinships, locations, populations and cultural characteristics of some 400 separately identifiable peoples native to the North American continent, both living and extinct, from the Canadian Arctic to the Rio Grande. This revised edition adds 32 pages, updates all facts and provides improved illustrations and maps.

The abundance of illustrations and photographs form an especially rich store of material describing the vast range of Native American material culture. The maps are valuable pictorial representations of major historical events. Population and settlement trends based on the most recent US Census paint detailed portraits of all officially recognized tribes.

The book includes:

More than 300 color and archival photographs, many of them improved selections Extensive visual coverage of tribal dress and cultural artifacts 21 regional maps, including prehistoric cultural and historic sites and tribe distribution maps, as well as maps showing movement of tribes and non-indigenous troops during conflicts, all updated as needed More than 100 specially commissioned color illustrations, also improved as needed.

This is one of the most comprehensive, up-to-date and useful references published in recent years. Scholarly and accessible, it is an important record of the Native American peoples and an essential purchase for schools and libraries.

Author Notes

Michael G. Johnson has researched Native American history and culture for more than 35 years, and has numerous books on the subject. In July 2000, he received The Denali Press Award from the American Library Association for the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes . He has visited more than 30 Indian communities and reservations.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Johnson, author of several books on Native Americans, expanded and richly illustrated this second edition which focuses on tribes living north of the Rio Grande, including Alaska and Canada. In addition to the color plates by Richard Hook, there are numerous maps, illustrations, and black-and-white photos throughout. An overview of the classification of Indian languages serves as the basis for the organization of the subsequent sections of the encyclopedia. Each chapter concentrates on a geographic region with tribal information arranged by language. The content is concise, gathering facts on ethnology, demographics, and culture. A glossary, census data, and a bibliography are also included. Anyone interested in Native American history and culture will find this book a valuable resource. VERDICT A worthwhile addition to the reference collection at school, college, and public libraries.-Diane Fulkerson, Univ. of South Florida, Lakeland (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Last published in 2007 (CH, Apr'08, 45-4148), this encyclopedia, now in its fourth incarnation, was first published in 1994 as The Native Tribes of North America (CH, Jun'94, 31-5210). This new edition features 16 additional pages, new maps on the Arctic and the subarctic, a section on the Métis, an expanded glossary, and updated census data. Like earlier editions, it is organized by culture area ("Northwestern Woodlands," "Southeastern Woodlands," "Plains and Prairie," "Plateau," "Great Basin," "California," "Southwest," "Northwest Coast," "Subarctic," and "Arctic"). Each culture area is introduced with a linguistic chart, an ethnohistorical essay, and a map; these help readers understand relationships between nations in the specific areas. Because entries within culture areas are not alphabetic, finding information on specific tribes is not straightforward; the index to this volume often provides the quickest means of access. Entries continue to be titled by popular rather than preferred names; in this edition, the preferred name is now noted in parentheses, e.g., "Winnebago (Ho Chunk)," and cross-referenced in the index. Coverage continues to be uneven-ranging from a short paragraph for some entries (e.g., for tribes in the Great Basin) to lengthy entries for others (e.g., Plains). The volume is enhanced with an informative introduction, an explanation of linguistic classification (language families), extensive and detailed maps, a section on Native people today, detailed demographic statistics for the US and Canada, and an illustrated glossary. Though not in academia, Johnson has published about Native peoples for more than 30 years. This reference book is equivalent in scope, quality, and price to the Anton Trever et al. one-volume Indian Nations of North America (2010). The maps, photographs, and beautiful illustrations by Hook, combined with concise, accurate entries, make this volume a good purchase, especially for libraries that lack the 2007 edition. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. --Mary Jane M. Cedar Face, Southern Oregon University



Foreword By Dr. James A. Clifton Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College I thought that the first edition of this beautiful book was a near-flawless example of the book publishing art. So I am delighted to see this somewhat enlarged new edition, the original gem much improved by the addition of new facets and a polishing of the whole. Author Michael Johnson, illustrator Richard Hook and the publisher's copy editors and book designers have obviously collaborated to superb effect in this upgrading. In the original, Hook's panoptic multitribal color plates were stunning, but so full of visual information about crafts and costumes as to overwhelm the viewer. These multitribal plates were also separated from the pertinent text entries. In the new edition, the composite plates have been broken up, each separate figure enlarged and relocated adjacent to the appropriate text description, with substantial reinforcing effect. That decision was obviously an editor's or book designer's decision, unnamed talents who deserve credit for contributing to the usefulness of this book. Author and publisher also have added a great many additional photographic plates, historic and contemporary. Altogether, this is the most lavishly illustrated reference book about North American Indians available in print. Michael Johnson has corrected the few glitches in his original exposition, updated numerous entries following recently published scholarly works, and included a useful, illustrated glossary. Adding to his original scholarship, Johnson has produced a sound, accurate and concise course of instruction about the native tribes of North America. This new edition is an updated, enlarged (sufficient to lose the "Concise" in the first edition's title) model of excellence in the art of reference volume publishing. With Michael Johnson and Richard Hook, they have produced a beginning student's book, a collector's book, a young person's book, a librarian's book, an artist's book, a general reader's book, a costume designer's book and even a scholar's book. It is a banquet for the eyes, a pleasure to hold and handle, and a resource for the mind. Johnson, one of the world's most respected savants of North American Indian arts, crafts and material culture, worked in close partnership with famed illustrator, Richard Hook, whose color plates are meticulous in detail and dazzling in artistic quality. Of Johnson (an engineer by profession) it may be said that he is an amateur, meaning his lifelong pursuit of knowledge about Indians has been his avocation and that he lacks academic credentials to tack on to his name. But it must also fairly be said that he shares his status with Darwin and Gibbon. Of Hook it may be accurately said that in preparing his illustrations he had to work from archival or museum materials, visual and textual, rather than from living models, unlike his 19th-century predecessors such as George Winter, George Catlin or Rudolph Frederich Kurz. But it must also be fairly said that Hook is easily the superior in artistic talent and mastery of technique to any of his precursors. Johnson's introductory essay, covering prehistoric and historic Indian populations, languages and cultural distributions, and his 10 chapters describing the many tribes in North America's culture areas put me in mind of Frederick Webb Hodge's 1907 classic, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico , which had the entire staff of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology, and other scholars, as contributors. This book is that sound, useful and handy a reference work. The author's coverage of the tribes in each culture area is comprehensive, not abbreviated, and his summaries of each tribe's affiliations and history are solid and perceptive. I am particularly impressed by the amount of attention Michael Johnson has given to the distinguishing details of the ethnology of North America. These details include a classification of Indian languages, together with a summary of culture areas; and lists of the tribes and languages (with translations of ethonyms) preceding each of the 10 culture area chapters, from the Northeastern Woodlands to the Arctic. His brief chapter, "The Indian Today," is honest and perceptive, and is sufficient to remind readers that "the Indian" certainly did not disappear with the passenger pigeon. For some decades a swelling popular and academic interest in North America's native peoples has caused a flood of hastily prepared "Dictionaries" or "Encyclopedias" of things Indian. The shelves of our libraries now groan with the weight of such poor stuff, typically as shaky in scholarship as they are inferior in accuracy in editing, art, print quality, paper and binding. The Encyclopedia of Native Tribes of North America does not belong in this opportunistic genre. It stands in marvelous contrast, in a class, and of a quality, by itself. James A . Clifton, Ph.D. Excerpted from Encyclopedia of Native Tribes of North America by Michael G. Johnson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.