Na-Dené (also Na-Dene, Nadene, Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit) is a Native American language family which includes the Athabaskan languages, Eyak, and Tlingit.
The Na-Dene family includes:Tlingit language: 700 speakers (M. Krauss, 1995) Athabaskan-Eyak Eyak language: 1 speaker, (N. Barnes, 1996) Athabaskan languages: Northern Pacific Coast and Southern.
Navajo is the most widely spoken language of the Na-Dené family, spoken in Arizona, New Mexico, and other regions of the American Southwest.
Dene or Dine is a widely distributed group of Native languages and peoples spoken in Canada, Alaska, and parts of Oregon and northern California.
Eyak is spoken in the Alaskan panhandle and today there is only one speaker left.
Genetic relation proposals
Haida, with 15 fluent speakers (M. Krauss, 1995), was once considered a member of the Na-Dené family, but most linguists consider the evidence inconclusive and classify it as a language isolate.
According to Joseph Greenberg’s highly controversial classification of the languages of Native North America, Na-Dené-Athabaskan is one of the three main groups of Native languages spoken in the Americas, and represents a distinct wave of migration from Asia to the Americas.
The other two are Eskimo-Aleut, spoken in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic; and Amerind, Greenberg’s most controversial classification, which includes every language native to the Americas that is not Eskimo-Aleut or Na-Dené.
Contemporary supporters of Greenberg’s theory, such as Merritt Ruhlen, have suggested that the Na-Dené language family represents a distinct migration of people from Asia to the New World.
The time of this migration is estimated to have been six to eight thousand years ago, placing it around four thousand later than the initial population of the continents by Amerind speakers.
Ruhlen speculates that the Na-Dené speakers may have arrived in boats, initially settling near the Queen Charlotte Islands, now in British Columbia, Canada.
According to the (also controversial) linguistic theory of Sergei Starostin, Na-Dene is a member of the Dene-Caucasian superfamily, along with the North Caucasian languages and Sino-Tibetan languages.
Professor Edward Vajda from the Modern & Classical Languages Department of the Western Washington University considers these languages to be related to Yeniseian (or Yeniseic) languages in Siberia, which would also support the controversial theory of Starostin and others.
American Indian Language Family Trees, Goddard (1996) & Mithun (1999)
2. Na-Dene (47)
Nuclear Na-Dene (45)
Athabascan (Athapaskan, Athapascan, Athabaskan, ) (43) Apachean (6)
Kiowa Apache (1)
Eastern Apache (3)
Apache, Jicarilla (USA)
Apache, Lipan (USA)
Apache, Mescalero-Chiricahua (USA)
Western Apache-Navajo (2)
Apache, Western (USA)
Carrier, Southern (Canada)
Slavey, North (Canada)
Slavey, South (Canada)
Pacific Coast (9)
Ahtena (USA) (aka Ahtna, Copper River or Mednovskiy)
Tanana-Upper Kuskokwim (4)
Tanana, Lower (USA)
Tanana, Upper (USA)
Upper Kuskokwim (1)
Kuskokwim, Upper (USA)
Tutchone, Southern (Canada)
Tutchone, Northern (Canada)
Haida, Northern (Canada)
Haida, Southern (Canada)/p
Navajo Nation voters passed a referendum last month that allows for the first time for a non-Navajo speaker to be president. The move, while political, sparked a dialogue among people who see their language threatened as never before. Some Navajos say the approval of the referendum represents a paradigm shift.
A remote population of a few hundred indigenous Siberians who live thousands of miles west of Alaska speak a language that appears to be an ancient relative of more than three dozen Native languages in North America, experts say.
A panel of respected linguists who met in Anchorage on Friday are hailing new research that links the Old World language of Ket, still spoken sparingly along the Yenisei River in western Siberia, and the sprawling New World family of Na-Dene languages — a broad grouping that encompasses the many Athabascan tribes in Alaska, along with the Tlingit and Eyak people, as well as Indian populations in western Canada and the American Southwest, including the Navajo and the Apache.