Indigenous languages of Arizona

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Arizona, a state in the southwestern region of the United States of America, is known for its high population of Native Americans. Arizona has the third highest number (and the sixth highest percentage) of Native Americans of any state in the Union (See Demographics of Arizona). Out of the entire US population of 2.9 million Native Americans, [1] roughly 286,680 live in Arizona, representing 10% of the country's total Native American population. Only California and Oklahoma have more Native Americans than Arizona by number. Arizona also has the highest proportion of land allocated to Native American reservations, at 28%. [2] Arizona has five of the twelve largest Indian reservations in the United States, including the largest, the Navajo Nation, and the third-largest, the Tohono O'odham Nation. Also, Arizona has the largest number of Native American language speakers in the United States. [3] [4]

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Demographics of Arizona

As of 2009, Arizona had a population of 6.343 million, which is an increase of 213,311, or 3.6%, from the prior year and an increase of 1,035,686, or 20.2%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 297,928 people and an increase due to net migration of 745,944 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 204,661 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 541,283 people. New population figures for the year ending July 1, 2006, indicate that Arizona is the fastest growing state in the United States, with 3.6% population growth since 2005, exceeding the growth of the previous leader, Nevada. The most recent population estimates released by the US Census put the population at 6,828,065 in 2015.



There are twelve Native American languages spoken in Arizona, in addition to three other languages that are primarily spoken outside the state and one language with a disputed existence.

Population estimates are based on figures from Ethnologue and U.S. Census data, as given in sub-pages below. The twelve languages are shown in the table below:

Language Classification Number of speakers Total ethnic population Tribe(s) included Location(s) in Arizona Significant external populations
Navajo Na-Dene: Southern Athabaskan 170,000 300,000 Navajo Navajo Nation New Mexico
Western Apache Na-Dene: Southern Athabaskan 13,000 20,000 White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache, Tonto Apache Fort Apache Indian Reservation, San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Tonto Apache Tribecall/Tonto Apache Indian Reservation
Yavapai Yuman: Pai 163 1,420 Yavapai Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Yavapai-Prescott Tribe
Havasupai-Hualapai Yuman: Pai 1,530 2,437 Havasupai, Hualapai Havasupai Indian Reservation, Hualapai Indian Reservation
Quechan/Yuma Yuman: River 250 1,200 Quechan Fort Yuma Indian Reservation California
Mojave Yuman: River 100 750 Mohave Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, Colorado River Indian Reservation California
Maricopa Yuman: River 160 400 Maricopa Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Gila River Indian Reservation (Maricopa Colony)
Cocopah Yuman: Delta 400 1,000 Cocopah Cocopah Indian Reservation Mexico (Baja California, Sonora)
Hopi Uto-Aztecan: Northern: Hopi 5,000 18,000 Hopi Hopi Indian Reservation
Colorado River Numic Uto-Aztecan: Northern: Numic 2,000 5,000 Chemehuevi, Southern Paiute, Ute San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe of Arizona, Kaibab Indian Reservation, Colorado River Indian Reservation Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California
O'odham Uto-Aztecan: Southern: Piman 10,000 20,000 Akimel O'odham/Pima, Tohono O'odham/Papago Tohono O'odham Nation, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Sonora
Yaqui Uto-Aztecan: Southern: Taracahitic 15,000 25,000 Yaqui people Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation, Guadalupe Sonora (Yaqui River Valley)
Halchidhoma Yuman ? Halchidhoma

Other minority Native American languages

In addition to the languages listed in the table above, there are three other Native American languages spoken in Arizona that are primarily found in New Mexico, located immediately to the east:

New Mexico State of the United States of America

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

Zuni language language of the Zuni people

Zuni is a language of the Zuni people, indigenous to western New Mexico and eastern Arizona in the United States. It is spoken by around 9,500 people worldwide, especially in the vicinity of Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, and much smaller numbers in parts of Arizona.

A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical relationship with other languages, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language. Language isolates are in effect language families consisting of a single language. Commonly cited examples include Ainu, Basque, Korean, Sumerian, Elamite, and Vedda, though in each case a minority of linguists claim to have demonstrated a relationship with other languages.

Apache County, Arizona County in the United States

Apache County is located in the northeast corner of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census its population was 71,518. The county seat is St. Johns.

See also

Indigenous peoples of Arizona Native Americans

Native Americans have inhabited what is now Arizona for thousands of years. It remains a state with one of the largest percentages of Native Americans in the United States, and has the second largest total Native American population of any state. In addition, the majority of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the US, and the entire Tohono O'odham Nation, the second largest, are located in Arizona. Over a quarter of the area of the state is reservation land.

Indigenous languages of the Americas languages spoken by Indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas

Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska, Nunavut, and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses that constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families, as well as many language isolates and unclassified languages.

Uto-Aztecan languages language family

Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a family of indigenous languages of the Americas, consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found almost entirely in the Western United States and Mexico. The name of the language family was created to show that it includes both the Ute language of Utah and the Nahuan languages of Mexico.

Related Research Articles

Chiricahua band of Apache Native Americans

Chiricahua are a band of Apache Native Americans, based in the Southern Plains and Southwest United States. Culturally related to other Apache peoples, Chiricahua historically shared a common area, language, customs, and intertwined family relations. At the time of European contact, they had a territory of 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in Southwestern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona in the United States and in Northern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico.

The Puebloans or Pueblo peoples, are Native Americans in the Southwestern United States who share common agricultural, material and religious practices. When Spaniards entered the area beginning in the 16th century, they came across complex, multi-story villages built of adobe, stone and other local materials, which they called pueblos, or towns, a term that later came to refer also to the peoples who live in these villages.

Navajo Nation Reservation

The Navajo Nation is a Native American territory covering about 17,544,500 acres, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. This is the largest land area retained by a Native American tribe, with a population of roughly 350,000 as of 2016.

Mescalero ethnic group

Mescalero or Mescalero Apache is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, located in south central New Mexico.

Tewa is a Tanoan language spoken by Pueblo people, mostly in the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico north of Santa Fe, and in Arizona. It is also known as Tano, or (archaic) Tée-wah.

Morris Edward Opler American anthropologist

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The Plains Apache language is a Southern Athabaskan language spoken by the Plains Apache peoples living primarily in central Oklahoma.

Mescalero-Chiricahua is a Southern Athabaskan language spoken by the Mescalero and the Chiricahua tribes in Oklahoma and New Mexico. It is related to Navajo and Western Apache and has been described in great detail by the anthropological linguist Harry Hoijer (1904–1976), especially in Hoijer & Opler (1938) and Hoijer (1946). Hoijer & Opler's Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Texts, including a grammatical sketch and traditional religious and secular stories, has been converted into an online "book" available from the University of Virginia.

The Navajos are a Native American people of the Southwestern United States. The Navajo people are politically divided between two federally recognized tribes, the Navajo Nation and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

Zuni Indian Reservation Reservation

The Zuni Indian Reservation, also known as Pueblo of Zuni, is the homeland of the Zuni tribe of Native Americans.

Oasisamerica Pre-Columbian cultural region of North America

Oasisamerica is a term used by some scholars, primarily Mexican anthropologists, for the broad cultural area defining pre-Columbian southwestern North America. It extends from modern-day Utah down to southern Chihuahua, and from the coast on the Gulf of California eastward to the Río Bravo river valley. Its name comes from its position in relationship with the similar regions of Mesoamerica and mostly nomadic Aridoamerica. The term Greater Southwest is often used to describe this region by American anthropologists.

Apache Scouts

The Apache Scouts were part of the United States Army Indian Scouts. Most of their service was during the Apache Wars, between 1849 and 1886, though the last scout retired in 1947. The Apache scouts were the eyes and ears of the United States military and sometimes the cultural translators for the various Apache bands and the Americans. Apache scouts also served in the Navajo War, the Yavapai War, the Mexican Border War and they saw stateside duty during World War II. There has been a great deal written about Apache scouts, both as part of United States Army reports from the field and more colorful accounts written after the events by non-Apaches in newspapers and books. Men such as Al Sieber and Tom Horn were sometimes the commanding officers of small groups of Apache Scouts. As was the custom in the United States military, scouts were generally enlisted with Anglo nicknames or single names. Many Apache Scouts received citations for bravery.

Southwestern archaeology is a branch of archaeology concerned with the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. This region has long been occupied by hunter-gatherers and agricultural peoples.

The Pueblo linguistic area is a Sprachbund consisting of the language spoken in and near North American Pueblo locations. There are also many shared cultural practices in this area. For example, these cultures share many ceremonial vocabulary terms meant for prayer or song.

The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is the federally recognized Native American tribe of Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache in Oklahoma.

Southern Athabaskan languages subfamily of Athabaskan languages

Southern Athabaskan is a subfamily of Athabaskan languages spoken primarily in the Southwestern United States with two outliers in Oklahoma and Texas. The language is spoken to a much lesser degree in the northern Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, and Nuevo León. Those languages are spoken by various groups of Apache and Navajo peoples. Elsewhere, Athabaskan is spoken by many indigenous groups of peoples in Alaska, Canada, Oregon and northern California. It represents the third major wave of ancient migration from Asia.

Indigenous peoples of the North American Southwest

Indigenous peoples of the North American Southwest refers to the area identified with the current states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada in the western United States, and the states of Sonora and Chihuahua in northern Mexico. An often quoted statement from Erik Reed (1964) defined the Greater Southwest culture area as extending north to south from Durango, Mexico to Durango, Colorado and east to west from Las Vegas, Nevada to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Other names sometimes used to define the region include "American Southwest", "North Mexico", "Chichimeca", and "Oasisamerica/Aridoamerica".This region has long been occupied by hunter-gatherers and agricultural people.


  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 2010 Census Bureau
  2. State DOTs and Native American Nations
  3. Navajo tops list of Native language speakers in US | CNS News
  4. Language Magazine » Census Shows Native Languages Count
  5. Newman, Stanley. (1996). Sketch of the Zuni language. In I. Goddard (Ed.) Handbook of North American Indians: Languages (Vol. 17, pp. 483–506). Washington: Smithsonian Institution.