California native language groups
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California native language groups

In 2000, according to the U.S. Census, there were 220,657 American Indians living in California, for those designating only one race, and excluding Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in California. California had the second-largest Native American population of any state, second only to Oklahoma.

Most of the American Indians in California are native California Indians, while many other Indians have come from other states either through relocation by the United States government or for employment purposes. There are over 100 federally-recognized Indian tribes in California, and almost 100 Federal Indian reservations in the state, with about 40 Indian groups seeking to gain federal recognition.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the native peoples of California lived in all areas of the state. There was no "empty" land, as long as that land could support human life. Nowhere else in the United States is there such a variety of cultures and languages spoken.

California Indians have dozens of languages and dialects from six major language families: Hokan, Penutian, Algonkian, Athabascan, Uto-Aztecan (Shoshonean), and Yukian.
California indian languages map
Athabascan Family

Oregon Group
    1a. Rogue River

Tolowa Group
    1b. Tolowa.

Hupa Group
    1c. Hupa
    1d. Whilkut

Matole Group
    1e. Matole

Wailaki Group
    1f. Nongatl
    1g. Lassik
    1h. Shelter Cove Sinkyone
    1i. Lolangkok Sinkyone
    1j. Eel River Wailaki
    1k. Pitch Wailaki
    1l. North Fork Wailaki
    1m. Kato

Bear River Group
    1n. Bear River

Algonkin Family
    2a. Yurok
    2b. Coast Yurok

    3. Wiyot

Yukian Family
    4a. Yuki
    4b. Huchnom
    4c. Coast Yuki
    4d. Wappo
Hokan Family

    6a. Shasta
    6b. New River Shasta
    6c. Konomihu
    6d. Okwanuchu
    6e. Achomawi (Pit River)
    6f. Atsugewi (Hat Creek)

    7a. Northern Yana
    7b. Central Yana
    7c. Southern Yana
    7d. Yahi
    8. Karok
    9. Chimariko

    10a. Northern
    10b. Central
    10c. Eastern
    10d. Southeastern
    10e. Northeastern
    10f. Southern
    10g. Southwestern

    11. Washo

    12. Esselen

    13a. Antoniano
    13b. Migueleño
    13c. Playano (doubtful)

    14a. Obispeño
    14b. Purisimeño
    14c. Ynezeño
    14d. Barbareño
    14e. Ventureño
    14f. Emigdiano
    14g. Cuyama
    14h. Island

    15a. Northern (Western)
    15b. Mountain Diegueño
    15c. Southern (Eastern or
                Desert) Diegueño
    15d. Kamia
    15e. Yuma
    15f. Halchidhoma & Kohuana
                (now Chemehuevi)
    15g. Mohave
Penutian Family

  Dialect Groups
    16a. Northern (Wintu)
    16b. Central (Nomlaki)
    16c. Hill (Patwin)
    16d. River (Patwin)

  Dialect Groups
    17a. Northeastern
    17b. Northwestern
    17c. Southern (Nisenan)

    18a. Coast
    18b. Lake
    18c. Bay (Saclan)
    18d. Plains
    18e. Northern Sierra
    18f. Central Sierra
    18g. Southern Sierra

    19a. San Pablo (Karkin)
    19b. San Francisco
    19c. Santa Clara
    19d. Santa Cruz
    19e. San Juan Bautista (Mutsun)
    19f. Rumsen (Monterey)
    19g. Soledad

  Dialect Groups
    20a. Northern Valley (Chulamni,
                Chauchila, etc.)
    20b. Southern Valley (Tachi,
                Yauelmani, etc.)
    20c. Northern Hill (Chukchansi,
    20d. Kings River (Chionimni, etc.)
    20e. Tule-Kaweah (Yaudanchi, etc.)
    20f. Poso Creek (Paleuyamni)
    20g. Buena Vista (Tulamni, etc.)

    20h. Modoc
Uto-Aztekan (Shoshonean) Family

Plateau Branch

  Mono-Bannock Group
    21a. Northern Paiute (Paviotso)
    21b. Owens Valley Paiute
    21c. Mono Lake Paiute
    21d. Monache (Western Mono)

  Shoshoni-Comanche Group
    21e. Panamint Shoshone (Koso)

  Ute-Chemehuevi Group
    21f, Chemehuevi (Southern Paiute)
    21g. Kawaiisu (Tecachapi)

Kern River Branch

    21h. Tübatulabal (& Bankalachi)

Southern California Branch

  Serrano Group
    21i. Kitanemuk (Tajon)
    21j. Alliklik
    21k. Möhineyam (Vanyume)
    21l. Serrano

  Gabrielino Group
    21m. Fernandeño
    21n. Gabrielino
    21o. Nicholeño

  Luiseño-Cahuilla Group
    21p. Juaneño
    21q. Luiseño
    21r. Cupeño
    21s. Pass Cahuilla
    21t. Mountain Cahuilla
    21u. Desert Cahuilla


Heizer, R.F. 1966. Languages, Territories, and Names of California Indian Tribes. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Kroeber, A.L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 78.

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