The Many Languages of Native American Tribes
There is no question about the amazing role Native Americans have played in history. One general misunderstanding was there were few Native American languages spoken prior to the arrival of the Europeans. On the contrary, it has now been estimated that the Native American languages spoken in the Western Hemisphere were well over a thousand, perhaps close to two thousand. Tribes of the Indian nations were estimated to be in the hundreds in North America alone.
The number of Native American languages are immense in variety and typically categorized by geographical divisions. The three primary divisions are North America, Central America and South America. Evidence also confirms that Native American languages were highly developed in North America.
Due to the immense variety of tribes and languages spoken by Native Americans, it would be virtually impossible to provide even a brief description of them all. So I will mention only a few who lived in times past, and a few currently residing in the Americas still speaking their native tongues.
The Quechuan languages are a family of languages with numerous dialects spoken in South America. It is a language family still spoken there today. An ancient requisite was that all learn Quechua, the language of the Incas. Hence, the Incas made their language, Quechua, the tongue of the Inca Empire. “Quechua,“ says the book Quechua, Within the Reach of Everyone, is considered “the most comprehensive, most varied, as well as the most elegant of the dialects of South America." Quechua is spoken today by millions in countries having connections to the Inca Empire, particularly in the mountains of Peru.
The Algonquin Indians of North America are the most populous and widespread of North American native groups and speak several different dialects. The Comanche Indians were an offshoot of the Eastern Shoshoni Indians. The Mohawk Indian tribe is part of the Iroquoian linguistic group, a language family that includes Cherokee. After the American Revolution many of the Mohawk tribes relocated to Canada and are currently living there today; many are also living in the US, and reservations span both countries.
Central America has a large number of natives speaking indigenous languages such as Mayan, spoken in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. Mexico is only second to Peru in the number of indigenous languages spoken. A few of them are Nahuatl, Mazatec and Trique.