Do Native Americans have different accents when they speak English?

Do Native Americans have different accents when they speak English depending on the region or tribe they come from? Or do Native Americans all have a similar “accent” when speaking English?

Yes, they do.

This is because there are hundreds of different tribal languages being spoken today. Many of our tribes have completely different dialects (think of them as being their own countries), while some are rooted in language families, others have no ties to any other language, like my tribe the Zuni.

The way accents work, are that people develop them based on how, when, and where they learned their language. They are also developed by the language groups they’re exposed to. When you’re part of a group, you act according to that group; through similar clothing, food preferences, and certainly language. When that group is distinct, their language becomes distinct and therefore so does your accent.

It may take an acute ear, or someone who is familiar with certain tribal accents to be able to pinpoint what tribe or region they’re from, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to do that.

Also, accents are highly impressionable and some traits can get picked up, dropped off, or meshed together depending on what ‘group’ you’re hanging with. If you’ve ever been around people who have lived in lots of different places/ countries, you might notice that their accent can sound like several different accents at the same time. Another example is if one tribe who spoke a certain language was separated from each other (through force or voluntarily), over time they likely will develop their own accents, even though they originally all spoke the same language.

Language is definitely an interesting subject. Hope this helps! And, thanks for the question!

Take care,

Auntie Manda

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