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What Is the Most Common Native American Language Spoken in Each State?



In the United States, approximately 9.7 million people identify as Native American or Alaskan Native, either alone or in combination with another race. In total, that means around 2.9 percent of all people living in the U.S. are potentially of Native American or Alaskan Native heritage.

While many primarily speak English, Native American languages are also present in many communities throughout the country. While they don’t have nearly the same number of speakers as English, Spanish, German, and many others do, they’re far more prevalent than many people would expect.

Here’s a look at the most common Native American language spoken in each state.

The Most Common Native American Language Spoken in Each State

Using data from the U.S. Census, Slate was able to determine the most commonly spoken Native American language in each state. The information is quite intriguing, particularly when it comes to states where the same language is most prevalent.

While many states that share a most common Native American language also share a border, others don’t. That can indicate that a particular group may have traveled or how widespread the language happened to be initially.

Here is a quick list of the most common Native American language spoken in each state:

  • Alabama – Cherokee
  • Alaska – Yupik
  • Arizona – Navajo
  • Arkansas – Cherokee
  • California – Navajo
  • Colorado – Navajo
  • Connecticut – Navajo
  • Delaware – Hopi
  • Florida – Muskogee
  • Georgia – Cherokee
  • Hawaii – Navajo
  • Idaho – Shoshoni
  • Illinois – Winnebago
  • Indiana – Cherokee
  • Iowa – Fox
  • Kansas – Potawatomi
  • Kentucky – Cherokee
  • Louisiana – Chitimacha
  • Maine – Passamaquoddy
  • Maryland – Cherokee
  • Massachusetts – Navajo
  • Michigan – Ojibwa
  • Minnesota – Ojibwa
  • Mississippi – Choctaw
  • Missouri – Cherokee
  • Montana – Crow
  • Nebraska – Dakota
  • Nevada – Navajo 
  • New Hampshire – Hopi
  • New Jersey – Sahaptin
  • New Mexico – Navajo
  • New York – Mohawk
  • North Carolina – Cherokee
  • North Dakota – Hidatsa
  • Ohio – Dakota
  • Oklahoma – Cherokee
  • Oregon – Sahaptin
  • Pennsylvania – Oneida
  • Rhode Island – Algonquian
  • South Carolina – Cherokee
  • South Dakota – Dakota
  • Tennessee – Cherokee
  • Texas – Cherokee
  • Utah – Navajo
  • Vermont – Micmac
  • Virginia – Cherokee
  • Washington – Sahaptin
  • West Virginia – Cherokee
  • Wisconsin – Ojibwa
  • Wyoming – Arapaho

One interesting point is that – when English and Spanish are removed from the equation – Navajo is the most common other spoken language in Arizona and New Mexico. The same goes for Dakota in South Dakota and Yupik in Alaska. In those cases, Native American languages were ahead of other common languages found in the United States, like German, which comes in third in more than half of the states.

How Many People Speak Native American Languages in the U.S.

In total, approximately 372,000 people living in the United States speak a Native American or Native Alaskan language. Here is a breakdown of the languages they speak:

  • Navajo – 169,471
  • Yupik – 18,950
  • Dakota – 18,616
  • Apache – 13,063
  • Keres – 12,945
  • Cherokee – 11,610
  • Choctaw – 10,343
  • Zuni – 9,686
  • Ojibwa – 8,371
  • Pima – 7,270
  • Inupiaq – 7,203
  • Hopi – 6,634
  • Tewa – 5,176
  • Muskogee – 5,064
  • Crow – 3,705
  • Shoshoni – 2,211
  • Cheyenne – 2,156
  • Eskimo – 2,076
  • Tiwa – 2,009
  • Other – 55,536

Overall, Navajo is by far the most prevalent. Additionally, it’s important to note that this is only a small snapshot of all of the Native American languages in the U.S. Estimates suggest that approximately 175 languages are still spoken in the United States. Further, there were originally more than 300, some of which are being actively restored, potentially leading to opportunities for increases if the proper actions are taken.

Can You Find Translators and Interpreters for Native American Languages?

Yes, there are translators and interpreters that specialize in various Native American languages. Often, those translators have Native American heritage. Some learned the language as they grew up, typically from older family members or community elders. Others decided to learn the language on their own as adults, allowing them to connect with their Native American background.

While there aren’t as many Native American translators and interpreters as there are for certain other languages, larger language services providers do have professionals on staff that specialize in those languages. Additionally, they can offer services for other languages spoken in an area, giving you a single solution for all of your interpretation and translation needs.

If you need a capable interpreter or translator, Acutrans can help. Acutrans provides an array of interpretation services – including on-site, over the phone, and video remote – in 200 languages. Plus, you can get certified, notarized translations within 24 hours.

Whatever your language services needs, the Acutrans team is here for you. Contact us for a free quote today.