Playing a Native American country is extremely difficult and luck dependent. If you want to take on an extraordinary challenge you should still carefully consider which people to play. Roughly there are two factions which have mostly uniform conditions among the respective peoples but quite different from each other: North American tribes and South American tribes. The former are in a much better position. Also it may be a good idea to play on very hard difficulty, as this will give the AI much more money that you can get in peace deals.
Comparison of Tribes
In the following table the bold printed entries represent disadvantages in comparison to other tribes.
|Aztecs||2||9.00||0.10||Tribal Despotism ( Tribal Democracy)||+5||+5|
|Zapotecs||6||1.06||0.00||Tribal Despotism ( Tribal Democracy)||+5||+5|
|Chimu||1||0.50||0.00||Tribal Despotism ( Tribal Democracy)||+5||+5|
|Inca||11||9.40||0.10||Tribal Despotism ( Tribal Democracy)||+5||+5|
The above Table shows one big advantage of the northern tribes: They only have to make 10 instead of 15 slider movements in order to westernize. This is a great advantage as your survival depends on westernization. Also their Tribal Democracy has no slider restrictions as the Tribal Despotism has, so as a southern tribe you must change your government, if you want to have the slightest chance. Note that the Inca have more than 10 provinces, giving them succession crises, so they depend on selling two provinces to the nearby Chimu. For the northern tribes this is not a problem since tribal democracies don't have Tribal Succession Crisis.
The second, even more decisive point in favour of the northern tribes is due to the colonization strategy of the Europeans. North America is colonized by comparatively weak Portugal, while the southern tribes usually have to put up with the much more aggressive and powerful Castille. The chances to be even able to survive as a southern tribe are very bad while playing a northern tribe may be manageable at times.
Probably the best pick are the Shawnee or the Creek. You only have one neighbour and you can ally with either Creek or Shawnee to bring down the Cherokee. When spread of an empty province spreads to you which neighbours an empty province neighbouring your country, you can attack the Huron/Iroquois when you know their capital. Don't worry about the incapable ruler modifier too much, since you'll earn lots of money when you keep your maintenance small, which you can later use to build forts.
Conquer until you have 9 provinces. Take a maximum of 2 non-core provinces in a peace agreement (you can't decently defend more) and get as much gold as you can in addition. Try to have cores in all provinces before getting contact with the Europeans. Your first slider movement should be towards innovative (you don't have enough troops to put up with a revolt that might occur when moving towards centralization). After that move to Centralization -2, then to Innovative -3. Research only government technology before you westernise. After westernisation you want government 10 as fast as possible to reform to a Noble Republic. After that research land (it will be researched mostly by neighbour bonuses) to get forts.
Fortify borders with Europeans to maximum level (hopefully you will have level 2 forts when they attack you). Use attrition to wear down the Portuguese. They have huge armies but low manpower. In contrast, the manpower of the Spanish is huge, so you are probably doomed if they are your neighbour. Still your manpower is laughable in comparison even to the Portuguese.
Take Colonial Ventures, National Conscripts and National Bank as first national ideas. In a war with Europeans, try to circumvent their armies when they siege level 2 forts and take enough provinces for a war score of 40%. At that point, if they decline an offer that is "better than they could have expected", they suffer a hit of 1 stability. Yet they will decline your offers, as you don't occupy their homeland. This means you can beat down their stability to -3 and thus enforce revolts in all their land. As soon as this attracts scavengers, they will give in to a peace with you, where you can take provinces for warscore + 10%, which means roughly 25 provinces (as they usually value them only 2% each). Thus, as long as the big picture is right, don't bother about them taking one or two of your provinces.
- Prawnstar's Iroquois AAR is a prime example of reaching success with an American Indian nation ()