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Suma Indians

Thomas N. Campbell General Entry

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Suma (Sume, Suna, Zuma) Indians ranged over a territory that extended from the vicinity of present El Paso westward across northwestern Chihuahua into northeastern Sonora. They entered various Spanish missions near El Paso and Casas Grandes. The Sumas slowly declined in numbers and several remnants seem to have been absorbed by various local Apache groups in the late eighteenth century. A few Suma individuals were still living south of El Paso in the late nineteenth century. The affiliations of the Sumas remain in doubt. Most writers profess to see little difference between the Sumas and the Jumanos. J. D. Forbes has recently argued that the Sumas were Athabascans, but he seems to have placed too much emphasis on their late association with Apaches.

Jack D. Forbes, "Unknown Athapaskans: The Identification of the Jano, Jocome, Jumano, Manso, Suma, and Other Indian Tribes of the Southwest," Ethnohistory 6 (Spring 1959). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). Anne Eugenia Hughes, The Beginnings of Spanish Settlement in the El Paso District (University of California Publications in History 1.3, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1914). Carl Sauer, The Distribution of Aboriginal Tribes and Languages in Northwestern Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1934).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Tribes (Other)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas N. Campbell, “Suma Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 21, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.