Western Apache language

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Western Apache
Ndee biyati' / Nnee biyati'
Native to United States
Region Primarily south-east Arizona
Ethnicity Western Apache
Native speakers
14,000 (65% of pop.) (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 apw
Glottolog west2615[2]

The Western Apache language is a Southern Athabaskan language spoken among the 14,000 Western Apaches living primarily in east central Arizona. Goodwin (1938) claims that Western Apache can be divided into five dialect groupings:

  • Cibecue
  • Northern Tonto
  • Southern Tonto
  • San Carlos
  • White Mountain

Other researchers do not find any linguistic evidence for five groups but rather three main varieties with several subgroupings:

Western Apache is most closely related to other Southern Athabaskan languages like Navajo, Chiricahua Apache, Mescalero Apache, Lipan Apache, Plains Apache, and Jicarilla Apache.

In 2011, the San Carlos Apache Tribe’s Language Preservation Program in Peridot, Arizona, began its outreach to the "14,000 tribal members residing within the districts of Bylas, Gilson Wash, Peridot and Seven Mile Wash,"[3] only 20% of whom still speak the language fluently.[4]


  1. as reported by Willem de Reuse in Golla, Victor. 2007. North America. In Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages, ed. Christopher Moseley (pp. 1–95). Routledge: London.
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Western Apache". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Sandra Rambler (2011-11-09). "Arizona Silver Belt Tribe focuses on preservation of Apache language". Arizona Silver Belt. Retrieved 2012-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 'Testimony of Mary Kim Titla:Reclaiming our Image and Identity for the next Seven Generations,' Senate Committee on Indian Affairs,' November 29, 2012.

References and recommended reading

External links