Kenaians, the name generally given to the division of the great Athabascan family living in Alaska. The name is derived from Kenai, the peninsula between Cook's inlet and Prince William sound, but has been extended from the tribe dwelling there to include all the Indians N. W. of Copper river and W. of the Rocky mountains, except the Aleuts and the Esquimaux. They have lost greatly in numbers by wars with the Esquimaux, but as late as 1869 were estimated at 25,000. They resemble the Tartars in the practice of the Shaman religion, scarification, burning the dead, infanticide, caste, etc. As in many other nations, each tribe is divided into clans or families, there being among the Kenaians three, Chitsa, Matesa, and Ateetsa; no man can marry in his own clan, and his children belong to the mother's clan. They wear leather tunics, or pointed shirts (from which the term Chipeweyan is said to be derived), with trousers and shoes attached. The tunic of the women is rather longer, rounded in front, and trimmed with hyaqua shells. The men paint their faces and wear hyaqua shells in the nose, while the women tattoo lines on the chin. They collect wealth and have a system of barter, using hyaqua shells or beads as money. The men are fewer in number than the women, but better looking.
On arriving at puberty girls are separated from the rest for a year, and wear a peculiar bonnet with fringes over the face. They generally burn their dead, collecting the ashes in a leathern bag, which is suspended on a painted pole, planted in a clear elevated spot; but some of the tribes now bury the dead or place them on elevated stages. The Kenaians embrace: 1, the Nehaunees, on the Lewis, Tahco, and Pelly, ignorant, barbarous, cowardly, and treacherous; including the Chil-kahtena, the Abbatitena, and the Dahotena, the Sicanees of the voyageurs and the Mauvais Monde or Slave at Francis lake; 2, the Tut-chonekutchin, which means Crow Indians, called also Gens des Foux, Caribous, or Mountain Indians, on both sides of the Yukon; 3, the Ahtena, S. W. of them, on the Atna or Copper river; 4, the Kenai, calledby the Russians Ugalentzi, who use birch canoes, bury their dead, and place wooden tombs over them; 5, the Hunkutchin, next to the Crows on the Yukon; 6, the Tukkuthkutchin, south of Porcupine river; 7, the Vuntakutchin, that is, Rat Indians, north of the Porcupine, called also Loucheux, Lake Indians, and Quarrellers; 8, the Natchekutchin, that is, strong people, migratory hunters, called also Gens de Large and Loucheux; 9, the Kutchakutchin, near the Porcupine and Yukon, called also Lowland people; 10, the Tenanakutchin or Gens de Butte, on Tenana river; and on the lower Yukon the Unokhotana, Coyukkhotana, and Karyukkhotana, a large tribe called by the Russians Ingaliks, probably an Esquimaux name.
These three tribes cannot converse with the Kutchins, though their language is similar.