Native American Languages

Native Indian Tribe

Languages of Native American Groups
Linguists have organised the North American Indian languages to six primary groups categorised as Siouan, Aleut, Algonquian, Athabascan, Chinookan and Uto-Aztecan which are are separated by location:
  • The Siouan languages spoken in regions ranging from the northeast, the southeast, the Plains and northern California

  • The Aleut languages of the Artic and Sub-Artic regions
  • The Algonquian languages spoken by the Northeast Woodlands and the Great Plains Indians
  • The Athabascan languages used by many west coast Native Indians
  • The Chinookan languages of the far Western tribes
  • The Uto-Aztecan (Numic) languages spoken in the Great Basin, the Great Plains, and in the south

Native American Languages - Culture Groups
The culture groups of Native American are categorised according to the divisions illustrated on the map and details of the main languages spoken by the people of these areas are detailed below. The groups are categorised as Northwest Native Americans, the Northeast Woodlands Indians, the Southwest Indians, the Southeast Native Americans, the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Indians and the Native Americans of California.

Native American Languages - Arctic Group
The Arctic culture area included Alaska, Canada and Greenland and the tribes of Aleut and Inuit people who both spoke the Eskimo Aleut language.

Native American Languages - Sub-Arctic Group
The Sub-Arctic culture area covered inland Alaska and Canada and the languages were divided into two groups. The tribes of Kuchin and Beaver  people who spoke the Athabaskan language and the eastern tribes of the Cree, Objiway (Chippewa) and the Naskapi who spoke the Algonquian language.

Native American Languages - Northeast Group
The Northeast culture area covered the Atlantic coast from Canada to North Carolina and the languages were divided into two groups. The tribes of the Erie, Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora, Cayuga and Oneida people who spoke the Iroquoian language and the tribes of the Menominee, Pequot, Delaware, Fox, Shawnee and Wampanoag who spoke the Algonquian language.

Native American Languages - Northwest Group
The Northwest culture area covered dense forest and mountains and the tribes of Haida, Chinook, Eyak, Coast Salish,  Tlingit, Tillamook and Chimakum people who spoke Chinookan languages.

Native American Languages - Southeast Group
The Southeast culture area covered north of the Gulf of Mexico and the 'five civilised tribes' of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole people who spoke the Muskogean language.

Native American Languages - Southwest Group
The Southwest culture area covered the massive desert region and the tribes of the Hopi, Zuni, Yuam, Apache and Navajo people who spoke a Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) language.

Native American Languages - Great Basin Group
The Great Basin culture area covered deserts, salt flats and brackish lakes and the tribes of Bannock, Paiute and Ute who spoke Shoshonean or Uto-Aztecan

Native American Languages - California Group
The Californian culture area was home to tribes such as the Hokan, Maidu, Miwok, Pomo, Chumash and Serrano people whose languages included the Athapaskan, Penutian and Uto-Aztecan dialects.

Native American Languages - Plateau Group
The Plateau culture area included fast flowing rivers and the tribes of Klamath, Modoc, Nez Perce, Walla Walla and Yakama people who spoke a variety of languages including Siouan, Algonquian, Caddoan, Uto-Aztecan and Athabaskan.

Native American Languages - Great Plains Group
The Great Plains culture area covered the prairies of central North America which was home to many tribes including the Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfoot and Comanche. The people of this vast area spoke a variety of languages including Siouan, Algonquian, Caddoan, Uto-Aztecan and Athabaskan. The variety of languages were due to introduction of the horse by the Europeans which made the hunting lifestyle very attractive to many nomadic tribes.

Native American Languages - Siouan
Siouan languages were a family of North American languages. The main language groups included tribes such as the Winnebago, Iowa, Oto, Missouri, Ponca, Omaha, Kansa, Osage, Quapaw, Sioux or Dakota, Hidatsa, Crow and Mandan. Other, now-extinct languages, included Tufelo and Biloxi. The Siouan languages include those spoken by the Iroquois, Creeks, Pomos and the Sioux in regions ranging from the northeast, the southeast, the Plains and northern California.

Native American Languages - Aleut
Although Aleut derives from the same parent language as the Eskimo (Inuit) languages, the two language groups (Aleut and Eskimo Inuit) have evolved in distinct ways. The main dialect groupings are Eastern Aleut, Atkan, and Attuan (now extinct). These dialects show influence from the Russian language. The first to record Aleut was a Frenchman called Alphonse Pinart, in 1871, shortly after the United States purchase of Alaska. The Aleut languages were spoke by people of the Artic and Sub-Artic regions. The word "Eskimo" is an Algonquian word meaning 'those who eat their meat raw.' The word "Inuit" means "We people." The Inuit ate approximately half their meat raw. 

Native American Languages - Algonquian
Algonquian has a subfamily of around 30 languages is divided into three groups according to geography: Plains, Central, and Eastern Algonquian. The majority of Algonquian languages are extremely endangered today and many are already extinct. The Algonquian languages, spoken by many tribes of the Eastern Woodlands and the Plains  and tribes inhabiting the Far West.

Native American Languages - Athabascan
The word 'Athabaskan' is a version of the Cree name for Lake Athabasca in Canada. The name was assigned by Albert Gallatin in his 1836 classification of the languages of North America. The Athabaskan language family is divided into three groups based on geographic distribution consisting of Northern Athabaskan, Pacific Coast Athabaskan, and Southern Athabaskan or Apachean. The Athabascan languages were spoken by the Navajos, and by some west coast Indians. The Athabascan language was spoken by nomadic hunters who travelled long distances to hunt herds of caribou and moose and fish the rivers for salmon.

Native American Languages - Chinookan
The small family of Chinookan languages of the far Western tribes which included Oregon and Washington along the Columbia River by Chinook peoples. The "Chinook Jargon," or language, began in the 1700's during the period of history when explorers came to region. The Chinookan language is a mixture of many tribes across the Northwest, as well as English and French.

Native American Languages - Uto-Aztecan
Uto-Aztecan language is a family of American Indian languages. The Uto-Aztecan homeland is generally thought to have been somewhere in the Southwestern United States - Arizona, New Mexico or northern Mexico. The Shoshonian language is a subfamily of Uto-Aztecan. The Uto-Aztecan (Numic) languages are spoken in the Great Basin, the Rocky Mountains, the Plains, and the south including the Pueblos and the Aztecs of Mexico.

Native American Indians Groups
Native Indian Tribes Index

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