Native American Languages

By Paul G on October 26, 2011
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Native American Languages

The languages among the Native American tribes are many. Some are very similar to each other and some are very different. Together, the native languages of the Americas are among the most numerous and varied in the world, which provides scholars with rich sources of information on the many ways people make speech and language.

The number of distinct languages in North America figures in the hundreds, however, by studying similarities and differences, scientists have placed most tribes into one of about 12  groups. Their theory is that all tribes assigned to one group were once one tribe living in the same area. Listed below are some of the  groups and some of their modern day tribes:

Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cree, Creek,
Lumbee, Micmac, Ojibwa
(Chippewa), Ottawa, Potawatomi,
Seminole and Blackfeet (Siksika)

Apache, Navajo, and Tlingit

Aztec, Comanche, Hopi, Kiowa,
Paiute, Pima, Shoshoni,
Tarahumara, Tohono O’odham
(Papago), Ute, and Yaqui

Pawnee and Wichita

Aleut and Eskimo

Yuman (Cocopah and Mohave)

Keres (Cochiti and some other
tribes of the upper Rio Grande
area in the southwest)

Quiche, Tzotzil, and 29 others

Cherokee, Crow, Dakota and
Lakota (Sioux), Ho-Chunk
(Winnebago), Huron or Wyandot,
Iroquois (Cayuga, Mohawk,
Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca)

Yakima and Zuni


The above list is just a small sampling of the different languages found across North America.  According to Wikipedia, there are over 296 separate spoken languages.  The full classification of the North American languages can be seen in the map below.

Native American Languages

Source: Wikipedia

North American Indegenious Languages

  1. Adai 
  2. Algic
  3. Alsean
  4. Atakapa 
  5. Beothuk 
  6. Caddoan
  7. Cayuse 
  8. Chimakuan
  9. Chimariko 
  10. Chinookan
  11. Chitimacha 
  12. Chumashan
  13. Coahuilteco 
  14. Comecrudan (United States & Mexico)
  15. Coosan
  16. Cotoname 
  17. Eskimo–Aleut
  18. Esselen
  19. Haida
  20. Iroquoian
  21. Kalapuyan
  22. Karankawa 
  23. Karuk
  24. Keresan
  25. Kutenai
  26. Maiduan
  27. Muskogean
  28. Na–Dené (United States, Canada & Mexico)
  29. Natchez 
  30. Palaihnihan
  31. Plateau Penutian
  32. Pomoan
  33. Salinan 
  34. Salishan
  35. Shastan
  36. Siouan–Catawban
  37. Siuslaw 
  38. Solano 
  39. Takelma 
  40. Tanoan
  41. Timucua 
  42. Tonkawa 
  43. Tsimshianic
  44. Tunica 
  45. Utian
  46. Uto-Aztecan
  47. Wakashan
  48. Wappo 
  49. Washo
  50. Wintuan
  51. Yana 
  52. Yokutsan
  53. Yuchi
  54. Yuki 
  55. Yuman
  56. Zuni

For more information on languages of the First Nations in Canada please visit

Source: The Indian Way CD by Mark Thiel and Wikipedia

Purchase the Indian Way CD from Noc Bay

TOPICS: Featured, Native American Culture, Native American History

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6 Responses to “Native American Languages”

  1. WhoMe says:

    American Indian views of language categories do not always coincide with scientific linguistic views.

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