Honoring Our Fathers

Honoring Our Fathers

As we get ready to honor our dads this Father’s Day, we at AIANTA queried our tribal partners and other language experts on how to address male family members in their Native languages.  (We extend warm thanks to everyone who helped contribute to this and all our indigenous language posts.)

We had a great response (see below), but it’s never too late to contact us to add your own language to our list.


Aleut, Eastern Dialect, Alaska
English Singular Posessive
Father Ada{ Adang
Grandfather Latu}i{ Latu}ing
Son La{ Lang
Brother Braata{ (Russian loan word) Braatang
Uncle Yaaya{ (Russian loan word) Yaayang
Nephew Umni{ Uming

Aleut, Western Dialect, Alaska
English Singular Posessive
Father Ada{ Adang
Grandfather Latu{ or Latu}i{ Latu}ing
Boy (also Son) Hla{ Hlang
Brother Huyu{ (Her Brother) Huyung (My Brother)
Uncle Ami{ Amiing
Nephew Umni{ Umnii

Chickasaw, Oklahoma
Father inki  

‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Language), Hawai‘i
Father Makuakāne  
Grandfather Kupunakāne  
Son/Boy Keikikāne  
Brother (generally, and to a sister) Kaikunāne  
Older Brother (to a brother) Kaikuaʻana  
Younger Brother (to a brother) Kaikaina  
Nephew (or Niece) ʻOhana Keiki  

Mahican Dialect, Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe of Wisconsin
My Grandfather muxoom  
My Son ndayoom  
My Older Brother neetaʔkun  
My Younger Brother (same word mother’s sister’s son) nxeethim  
My Uncle (father’s brother) nãacheʔkw  
My Uncle (mother’s brother) nseeth  
My Nephew nookwuth  

Mohawk, New York
My Father rake’níha  
Your Father ia’niha  
His Father ro’niha  
Her Father ronwa’niha  
Dad rákeni  
My Grandfather rakhsótha  
My Younger Brother ri’kén:’a  
My Older Brother rakhtsí:’a  
My Uncle rakenonhá:’a  
My Nephew riionhwatén:’a  
My Grandson riiateré:’a  

Tiwa/Northern Tiwa, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
Dad Dama  

Tlingit, Sitka Tribe, Alaska
My Father Ax Éesh  
My Grandfather Ax Léelk’w  
His/Her Son Du yéet  
His Older Brother Du Húnxw  
Her Brother Du éek’  
His/Her Paternal Uncle Du sáni  
His Sororal Nephew Du Kéilk’{  

Tunica, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana
Father esiku  
Grandfather ihchaku  
Son imilaku (affectionately, “my boy”)  
Brother (Same Sex Sibling) ihtat’ɛku  
Brother (Opposite Sex Sibling) ɛhɛyaku  
Maternal Uncle ikiku  
Maternal Aunt’s Husband esisahuku  
Older Paternal Uncle esit’ɛku  
Younger Paternal Uncle esitohkuku  
Nephew (Sister’s Child) ehtohkuku  
Nephew (Brother’s Child) ehkutosahuku  


Disappearing Languages

In February, the United Nations proclaimed 2019 to be the year of Indigenous Languages, so every month this year, AIANTA is showcasing different words and phrases to highlight the diversity in our Native languages.

According to UNESCO, approximately 600 languages have disappeared in the last century. More alarmingly, they continue to disappear at a rate of one language every two weeks. If this pace continues, up to 90 percent of the world’s languages are likely to disappear before the end of this century.

In the United States, according to the Indigenous Language Institute, there were more than 300 indigenous languages. Today, about 175 remain, although this number may shrink to 20 by 2050 if efforts aren’t made to preserve these languages.

For more information on the Year of Indigenous Languages, visit iyil2019.org/ or follow the hashtag #IY2019).

Language Resources

American Indian Language Development Institute

Northwest Indian Language Institute

Indigenous Language Institute

Consortium of Indigenous Language Organizations

Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival

Note: The words and phrases in this post were provided by members of the various tribes listed. Spellings and translations may vary. Some words may be missing accents or symbols due to limited characters on a keyboard.

We’re happy to add your language and/or hear corrections and suggestions on spellings and translations, so please contact us at info@aianta.org.


Photo credits: Top photo: Cherokee Nation; Feature photo: Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Tribe (c) Ecotrust, Flickr.com.



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