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(both: –păs`–), group of related Native American languages forming a branch of the Nadene linguistic family or stock. In the preconquest period, Athabascan was a large and extensive group of tongues. Its speakers lived in what are now Canada, Alaska, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Mexico. Today the surviving Athabascan languages include Chipewyan, Kutchin, Carrier, and Sarsi (all in Canada); Chasta-Costa (in Oregon); Hoopa or Hupa (in California); Navajo (in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah); and Apache (in Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico). These and other Athabascan languages are the mother tongues of about 175,000 indigenous people of North America. The speech communities of most Athabascan languages today are small, with the exception of Navajo, which has roughly 150,000 speakers, most of whom can also speak English. The Navajo are one of the largest Native American groups in the United States. A feature of the Navajo language, perhaps the best-known tongue in the Athabascan group, is its tonal quality. There are high tones, low tones, rising tones, and falling tones. Another important Athabascan tongue, Apache, is spoken in its various dialects by about 12,000 persons. According to some authorities, the Athabascan languages face extinction relatively soon. See Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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See H. Hoijer et al., Studies in the Athapaskan Languages (1963).

References in periodicals archive ?
HMCS Athabaskan is currently docked at Canadian Forces Base Halifax and is expected to be dismantled by July next year.
In view of the Apache's early origins, it is likely that this people's earliest indigenous footwear took the form of soft-soled moccasins or boots, consistent with other tribes in the region inhabited by their Northern Athabaskan forebears further north.
Soon after, he was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS ATHABASKAN during her modernization refit while at the same time fulfilling the duties as Combat Officer in HMCS REGINA.
Upper Tanana, a language spoken by indigenous Athabaskan people in eastern Alaska, had only 24 active speakers as of 2009, and was no longer being acquired by children.
Two tracks on Ritual, "Space Within" and "Dream Dances," include chanting by Nakai derived from the Hawaiian and Athabaskan languages.
The Dena'ina are an Alaska Native people and Athabaskan Native Americans in the United States.
One of the 23 northern Athabaskan languages, Tsilhqut'in is spoken by the people of Chilco River in interior British Columbia.
Later, as an experienced linguist, he published some studies of Penutian languages (1971) and the classification of Athabaskan languages (1976).
There was a perfectly logical explanation for my students' language use; although they spoke Carrier, a Northern Athabaskan language spoken in the central interior region of British Columbia rather than Cree, the classification example applied.
I know the officers and men from HMCS Athabaskan were touched by the Service and the welcome given to them by the people of Liverpool.
The Inuit, the previous Dorset peoples, the Arctic Athabaskan and other aboriginal groupings have inhabited the region successfully for millennia--there is absolutely no issue of "use it or lose it.