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American Indian Languages

The Algic Language Family

The Algic languages (also known as Algonquian-Wiyot-Yurok or Algonquian-Ritwan) are an indigenous language family of North America. They are all thought to descend from Proto-Algic, a second-order proto language reconstructed using Proto-Algonquian and the attested languages Wiyot and Yurok.

Most Algic languages are part of the Algonquian subfamily, which are spoken from the Rocky Mountains to New England. The other Algic languages are the Yurok and Wiyot languages of northwestern California.

The Algic language family consists of 30 languages. Wiyot, Miami, Illinois, Etchemin, Loup A, Loup B, Mahican, Massachusett, Mohegan, Pequot, Nanticoke, Narragansett, Pamlico, Powhatan, Quiripi, Naugatuck, Unami, Unquachog, and Shinnecock are now extinct. The last known Wiyot speaker died in 1962. All other languages are endangered. Yurok is thought to have ten or fewer speakers.

The two Algic languages of California, Wiyot and Yurok, have sometimes been combined into a subgroup called Ritwan (leading to a two-branch genetic tree of Ritwan and Algonquian). This grouping has been disfavored by many specialists. Wiyot and Yurok do not seem to be any more similar to each other than either language is to Algonquian languages.

Within the Algonquian subfamily there is a smaller genetic grouping of the Eastern Algonquian languages. The other (non-Eastern) Algonquian languages have sometimes been categorized into two smaller subgroups: Central Algonquian and Plains Algonquian. However, these two subgroups are not based on genetic relationship but are rather area subgroups.

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Tribes by Language

American Indian Language Family Trees

Goddard (1996) & Mithun (1999)



  1. Algic (44)
  • Wiyot (a.k.a. Wishosk)(1)
    • Wiyot (USA)
  • Yurok (a.k.a. Weitspekan) (1)
    • Yurok (USA)


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