How Do You Say Mother?

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, we queried our tribes and other language experts on how to address female family members in their Native languages.  (We extend warm thanks to everyone who helped contribute to this and all our indigenous language posts.)

How many ways do you know how to say mother?

Arapaho, Wyoming
Mother Neinoo
Daughter Notoone
Sister, Elder Nei
Niece Neesebi
Aunt Neheihoo
Grandmother Neiwoo
Grandchild Neisii


Catawba Language, Catawba Indian Nation, South Carolina
Mother yaksu (yahk-soo)  
My Mother yaksuna (yahk-soo-nah)  


Choctaw, Oklahoma
Mother ishki
Daughter ushi tek
Sister i tek
Niece ibihtek
Aunt hokni
Grandmother ippokni
Granddaughter ipok tek


Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Alaska
Mother Eenaa’e
My daughter (mother’s daughter) seyots’aa’e
My daughter (father’s daughter) setlaa’e
My older sister sode
My younger sister sedaadze’

My niece (woman’s daughter or niece)


My daughter (father’s daughter or niece)

My aunt (mother’s sister) sokk’ʉye
My aunt (father’s sister) sebaats’e, semaats’e
My grandmother setsoo
My granddaughter sekoye, sechoye


Gwich’in, Alaska

Note: In the Gwich’in language, we cannot have kinship terms without possession (my, your, his or hers, etc.)

My mother Shahan
Your mother Nahan
His/her mother Vahan
Our mother Diihan
Your (plural) mother Nakhwahan
Their Mother Goohan
My daughter Shiyeets’i’’
Your daughter Niyeets’i’’
My older sister Sheejii
Your older sister Neejii’
My younger sister Shijuu’
Your younger sister Nijuu
My niece Shakhoo
Your niece Nakhoo
My maternal aunt Sheek’aii
Your maternal aunt Neek’aii
My paternal aunt Shitsuu
Your paternal aunt Nitsuu
My grandmother Shitsuu

My granddaughter (said by grandmother)

Your granddaughter (said to grandmother) Nitseii
Your grandmother Nitsuu


Hualapai, Arizona
Mother jitha
Daughter misi’
Sister, Younger ginya
Sister, Older niya
Niece wisa
Aunt (Mother”s Side) nithi
Grandmother (Mother’s Side) goda
Grandmother (Father’s Side) monya
Granddaughter ko’


Inupiat Language, North Slope, Alaska
Mother Aaqa
Older Sister Aataaraq
Siblings Aaviliatkutat
Younger Brother or Sister (plural, both sexes) Nukaaluq


Mahican Dialect, Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe of Wisconsin
My Mother Ngok
Your Mother Kok
My Grandmother Noʔom
Your Grandmother Koʔom
My Older Sister Meeth
Your Older Sister Kmeeth
My Daughter Neechãan
Your Daughter Kneechãan


Mohawk, New York
Mother Ka’nisténhsera
Daughter Kheién:’a
Sister, Younger Khe’kén:’a
Sister, Older Aktsi’:’a
Niece Kheienhwatén:’a
Aunt Ake’nisténha
Grandmother Akhsótha
Granddaughter Kheiatere’:’a


Ojibwe Language
Mother(s) Nimaamaa(yag)
Daughter(s) Nindaanis(ag)
Sister(s), Older Nimise(yag)
Aunt, Father’s Sister(s) Ninzigos(ag)
Aunt, Mother’s Sister(s) Ninoshenh(yag)
Grandmother(s) Nookomis(ag)
Female Friend(s) Niijikwe
Wife (Wives) Niwiiw(ag)


‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Language), Hawai‘i
Mother Makuahine
Grandmother Kupunawahine
Daughter/Girl Kaikamahine
Sister (generally, and to a brother) Kaikuahine
Older Sister (to a sister) Kaikuaʻana
Younger Sister (to a sister) Kaikaina
Niece (or Nephew) ʻOhana Keiki


Paiute, Nevada
Mother beah
Daughter budduh
Sister, Older hummah
Sister, Younger buneh
Aunt, Mother’s Side bedduh
Aunt, Father’s Side buhwuah
Grandmother. Father’s Side hootzee
Grandmother. Mother’s Side mooah
Granddaughter/Grandson, Father’s Side hootze
Granddaughter/Grandson, Mother’s Side mooah


Pyramid Lake Paiute/Northern, Nevada
Mother Pea
Daughter Padu
Sister, Older Hamma’a
Sister, Younger Punne’e
Niece, Father’s Side Hooza
Niece, Mother’s Side Nanakwa
Aunt, Mother’s Side Pedoo’o
Aunt, Father’s Sister (man speaking) Pa’wa (Pa’wa)

Aunt, Father’s Sister (woman speaking)

Grandmother. Father’s Side Hootse’e
Grandmother. Mother’s Side Mooa’a
Granddaughter Hoobe’e


Tlingit, Alaska
Mother Tláa
Mother-in-Law Chaan
Daughter Sée
Boy’s Sister Dlaak’
Giril’s Older Sister Shátx
Girl’s Younger Sister Kéek’
Niece, Sister’s Child Káalk’w
Maternal Aunt Tláak’w
Paternal Aunt Aat
Grandmother/Grandfather/Grandparents) Léelk’w
Great-Great Grandparent(s) Daakanóox’u


Tunica, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana
Mother igachihchi


Twulshootseed, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Washington
Mother sk’ʷuy
Grandmother kayəʔ
Aunt pus

Note: The words and phrases in this post were provided by members of the tribes listedm but spellings and translations may vary. Also, 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. Please feel free to contact us at

View more kanguage posts in AIANTA’s Native Greetings series.


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