Native American Nations
                   Your Source for Indian Research
                   Rolls ~ History ~ Treaties ~ Census ~ Books

Additional Classification of Indian Languages

 Native American Nations | Linguistic Families                   

1859. Kane, Paul
Wanderings of an artist among the Indians of North America from Canada to Vancouver’s Island and Oregon through the Hudson’s Bay Company’s territory and back again. London, 1859.
The interesting account of the author’s travels among the Indians, chiefly in the Northwest, and of their habits, is followed by a four page supplement, giving the names, locations, and census of the tribes of the Northwest coast. They are classified by language into Chymseyan, including the Nass, Chymseyans, Skeena and Sabassas Indians, of whom twenty-one tribes are given; Ha-eelb-zuk or Ballabola, including the Milbank Sound Indians, with nine tribes; Klen-ekate, including twenty tribes; Hai-dai, including the Kygargey and Queen Charlotte’s Island Indians, nineteen tribes being enumerated; and Qua-colth, with twenty-nine tribes. No statement of the origin of these tables is given, and they reappear, with no explanation, in Schoolcraft’s Indian Tribes, volume V, pp. 487-489.

In his Queen Charlotte Islands, 1870, Dawson publishes the part of this table relating to the Haida, with the statement that he received it from Dr. W. F. Tolmie. The census was made in 1836-’41 by the late Mr. John Work, who doubtless was the author of the more complete tables published by Kane and Schoolcraft.

1862. Latham, Robert Gordon
Elements of comparative philology. London, 1862.
The object of this volume is, as the author states in his preface, “to lay before the reader the chief facts and the chief trains of reasoning in Comparative Philology.” Among the great mass of material accumulated for the purpose a share is devoted to the languages of North America. The remarks under these are often taken verbatim from the author’s earlier papers, to which reference has been made above, and the family names and classification set forth in them are substantially repeated.

1862. Hayden, Ferdinand Vandeveer
Contributions to the ethnography and philology of the Indian tribes of the Missouri Valley. Philadelphia, 1862.
This is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the Missouri River tribes, made at a time when the information concerning them was none too precise. The tribes treated of are classified as follows:

I. Knisteneaux, or Crees. }
II. Blackfeet. } Algonkin Group, A.
III. Shyennes. }
IV. Arapohos. } Arapoho Group, B.
V. Atsinas. }
VI. Pawnees. } Pawnee Group, C.
VII. Arikaras. }
VIII. Dakotas. }
IX. Assiniboins. }
X. Crows. }
XI. Minnitarees. } Dakota Group, D.
XII. Mandans. }
XIII. Omahas. }
XIV. Iowas. }

1864. Orozco y Berra, Manuel
Geografía de las Lenguas y Carta Etnográfica de México Precedidas de un ensayo de clasificacion de las mismas lenguas y de apuntes para las inmigraciones de las tribus. Mexico, 1864.
The work is divided into three parts. (1) Tentative classification of the languages of Mexico; (2) notes on the immigration of the tribes of Mexico; (3) geography of the languages of Mexico.

The author states that he has no knowledge whatever of the languages he treats of. All he attempts to do is to summarize the opinions of others. His authorities were (1) writers on native grammars; (2) missionaries; (3) persons who are reputed to be versed in such matters. He professes to have used his own judgment only when these authorities left him free to do so.

His stated method in compiling the ethnographic map was to place before him the map of a certain department, examine all his authorities bearing on that department, and to mark with a distinctive color all localities said to belong to a particular language. When this was done he drew a boundary line around the area of that language. Examination of the map shows that he has partly expressed on it the classification of languages as given in the first part of his text, and partly limited himself to indicating the geographic boundaries of languages, without, however, giving the boundaries of all the languages mentioned in his lists.

1865. Pimentel, Francisco
Cuadro Descriptivo y Comparativo de las Lenguas Indígenas de México. México, 1865.
According to the introduction this work is divided into three parts: (1) descriptive; (2) comparative; (3) critical.

The author divides the treatment of each language into (1) its mechanism; (2) its dictionary; (3) its grammar. By “mechanism” he means pronunciation and composition; by “dictionary” he means the commonest or most notable words.

In the case of each language he states the localities where it is spoken, giving a short sketch of its history, the explanation of its etymology, and a list of such writers on that language as he has become acquainted with. Then follows: “mechanism, dictionary, and grammar.” Next he enumerates its dialects if there are any, and compares specimens of them when he is able. He gives the Our Father when he can.

Volume I (1862) contains introduction and twelve languages. Volume II (1865) contains fourteen groups of languages, a vocabulary of the Opata language, and an appendix treating of the Comanche, the Coahuilteco, and various languages of upper California.

Volume III (announced in preface of Volume II) is to contain the “comparative part” (to be treated in the same “mixed” method as the “descriptive part”), and a scientific classification of all the languages spoken in Mexico.

In the “critical part” (apparently dispersed through the other two parts) the author intends to pass judgment on the merits of the languages of Mexico, to point out their good qualities and their defects.

1870. Dall, William Healey
On the distribution of the native tribes of Alaska and the adjacent territory. In Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Cambridge, 1870, vol. 18.
In this important paper is presented much interesting information concerning the inhabitants of Alaska and adjacent territories. The natives are divided into two groups, the Indians of the interior, and the inhabitants of the coast, or Esquimaux. The latter are designated by the term Orarians, which are composed of three lesser groups, Eskimo, Aleutians, and Tuski. The Orarians are distinguished, first, by their language; second, by their distribution; third, by their habits; fourth, by their physical characteristics.

1870. Dall, William Healey
Alaska and its Resources. Boston, 1870.
The classification followed is practically the same as is given in the author’s article in the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

1877. Dall, William Healey
Tribes of the extreme northwest. In Contributions to North American Ethnology (published by United States Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region). Washington, 1877, vol. 1.
This is an amplification of the paper published in the Proceedings of the American Association, as above cited. The author states that “numerous additions and corrections, as well as personal observations of much before taken at second hand, have placed it in my power to enlarge and improve my original arrangement.”

In this paper the Orarians are divided into “two well marked groups,” the Innuit, comprising all the so-called Eskimo and Tuskis, and the Aleuts. The paper proper is followed by an appendix by Gibbs and Dall, in which are presented a series of vocabularies from the northwest, including dialects of the Tlinkit and Haida nations, T´sim-si-ans, and others.

1877. Gibbs, George
Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon. In Contributions to North American Ethnology. Washington, 1887, vol. 1.
This is a valuable article, and gives many interesting particulars of the tribes of which it treats. References are here and there made to the languages of the several tribes, with, however, no attempt at their classification. A table follows the report, in which is given by Dall, after Gibbs, a classification of the tribes mentioned by Gibbs. Five families are mentioned, viz: Nutka, Sahaptin, Tinneh, Selish, and T´sinuk. The comparative vocabularies follow Part II.

1877. Powers, Stephen
Tribes of California. In Contributions to North American Ethnology. Washington, 1877, vol. 3.
The extended paper on the Californian tribes which makes up the bulk of this volume is the most important contribution to the subject ever made. The author’s unusual opportunities for personal observation among these tribes were improved to the utmost and the result is a comparatively full and comprehensive account of their habits and character.

Here and there are allusions to the languages spoken, with reference to the families to which the tribes belong. No formal classification is presented.

1877. Powell, John Wesley
Appendix. Linguistics edited by J. W. Powell. In Contributions to North American Ethnology. Washington, 1877, vol. 3.
This appendix consists of a series of comparative vocabularies collected by Powers, Gibbs and others, classified into linguistic families, as follows:

Family. Family.
1. Ká-rok.
2. Yú-rok.
3. Chim-a-rí-ko.
4. Wish-osk.
5. Yú-ki.
6. Pómo.
7. Win-tun´.
8. Mut´-sun.
9. Santa Barbara.
10. Yó-kuts.
11. Mai´-du.
12. A-cho-mâ´-wi.
13. Shas-ta.

1877. Gatschet, Albert Samuel
Indian languages of the Pacific States and Territories. In Magazine of American History. New York, 1877, vol. 1.
After some remarks concerning the nature of language and of the special characteristics of Indian languages, the author gives a synopsis of the languages of the Pacific region. The families mentioned are:

1. Shóshoni
2. Yuma.
3. Pima.
4. Santa Barbara
5. Mutsun
6. Yocut
7. Meewoc
8. Meidoo
9. Wintoon
10. Yuka
11. Pomo. 21. Yakon.
12. Wishosk. 22. Cayuse.
13. Eurok. 23. Kalapuya.
14. Weits-pek. 24. Chinook.
15. Cahrok. 25. Sahaptin.
16. Tolewa. 26. Selish.
17. Shasta. 27. Nootka.
18. Pit River. 28. Kootenai.
19. Klamath.
20. Tinné.

This is an important paper, and contains notices of several new stocks, derived from a study of the material furnished by Powers.

The author advocates the plan of using a system of nomenclature similar in nature to that employed in zoology in the case of generic and specific names, adding after the name of the tribe the family to which it belongs; thus: Warm Springs, Sahaptin.

1878. Powell, John Wesley
The nationality of the Pueblos. In the Rocky Mountain Presbyterian. Denver, November, 1878.
This is a half-column article, the object of which is to assign the several Pueblos to their proper stocks. A paragraph is devoted to contradicting the popular belief that the Pueblos are in some way related to the Aztecs. No vocabularies are given or cited, though the classification is stated to be a linguistic one.

1878. Keane, Augustus H.
Appendix. Ethnography and philology of America. In Stanford’s Compendium of Geography and Travel, edited and extended by H. W. Bates. London, 1878.
In the appendix are given, first, some of the more general characteristics and peculiarities of Indian languages, followed by a classification of all the tribes of North America, after which is given an  alphabetical list of American tribes and languages, with their habitats and the stock to which they belong.

The classification is compiled from many sources, and although it contains many errors and inconsistencies, it affords on the whole a good general idea of prevalent views on the subject.

1880. Powell, John Wesley
Pueblo Indians. In the American Naturalist. Philadelphia, 1880, vol. 14.
This is a two-page article in which is set forth a classification of the Pueblo Indians from linguistic considerations. The Pueblos are divided into four families or stocks, viz:

1. Shínumo.
2. Zunian.
3. Kéran.
4. Téwan.

Under the several stocks is given a list of those who have collected vocabularies of these languages and a reference to their publication.

1880. Eells, Myron
The Twana language of Washington Territory. In the American Antiquarian. Chicago, 1880-’81, vol. 3.
This is a brief article—two and a half pages—on the Twana, Clallam, and Chemakum Indians. The author finds, upon a comparison of vocabularies, that the Chemakum language has little in common with its neighbors.

1885. Dall, William Healey
The native tribes of Alaska. In Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, thirty-fourth meeting, held at Ann Arbor, Mich., August, 1885. Salem, 1886.
This paper is a timely contribution to the subject of the Alaska tribes, and carries it from the point at which the author left it in 1869 to date, briefly summarizing the several recent additions to knowledge. It ends with a geographical classification of the Innuit and Indian tribes of Alaska, with estimates of their numbers.

1885. Bancroft, Hubert Howe
The works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, vol. 3: the native races, vol. 3, myths and languages. San Francisco, 1882.
Vols. 1-5 collectively are “The Native Races”; vol. 3 is Myths and Languages.
In the chapter on that subject the languages are classified by divisions which appear to correspond to groups, families, tribes, and dialects.

The classification does not, however, follow any consistent plan, and is in parts unintelligible.

1882. Gatschet, Albert Samuel
Indian languages of the Pacific States and Territories and of the Pueblos of New Mexico. In the Magazine of American History. New York, 1882, vol. 8.
This paper is in the nature of a supplement to a previous one in the same magazine above referred to. It enlarges further on several of the stocks there considered, and, as the title indicates, treats also of the Pueblo languages. The families mentioned are:

1. Chimariko.
2. Washo.
3. Yákona.
4. Sayúskla.
5. Kúsa.
6. Takilma.
7. Rio Grande Pueblo.
8. Kera.
9. Zuñi.

1883. Hale, Horatio
Indian migrations, as evidenced by language. In The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal. Chicago, 1888, vol. 5.
In connection with the object of this paper—the study of Indian migrations—several linguistic stocks are mentioned, and the linguistic affinities of a number of tribes are given. The stocks mentioned are:


1885. Tolmie, W. Fraser and Dawson, George M.
Comparative vocabularies of the Indian tribes of British Columbia, with a map illustrating distribution (Geological and Natural History Survey of Canada). Montreal, 1884.
The vocabularies presented constitute an important contribution to linguistic science. They represent “one or more dialects of every Indian language spoken on the Pacific slope from the Columbia River north to the Tshilkat River, and beyond, in Alaska; and from the outermost sea-board to the main continental divide in the Rocky Mountains.” A colored map shows the area occupied by each linguistic family.


Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891

Linguistic Families


Copyright 2000-2019 by and/or their author(s). The webpages may be linked to but shall not be reproduced on another site without written permission from NaNations or their author. Images may not be linked to in any manner or method. Anyone may use the information provided here freely for personal use only. If you plan on publishing your personal information to the web please give proper credit to our site for providing this information. Thanks!!!