Arizona county tops Native American language speakers

Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:28pm EST
 
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PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona county that includes parts of three Indian reservations leads the nation in the number of people who speak a Native American language, a recently released U.S. Census Bureau report said.

Figures in a report released this month show Apache County, which has a population of 70,000 and is located in the state's far northeastern corner near New Mexico, has nearly 37,000 Native American language speakers.

The county is home to the Navajo Nation, and parts of the White Mountain-Apache and Zuni Indian reservations.

Coming in a close second with 33,000 Native American speakers is McKinley County in New Mexico, which is just on the other side of the state border from Apache County.

Apache and McKinley counties combined make up about 20 percent of all Native American language speakers in the nation, according to the Census Bureau.

The figures are contained in the report, "Native North American Languages Spoken at Home in the United States and Puerto Rico: 2006-2010."

The survey says Navajo is overwhelmingly the most popular Native American language among Census respondents, with 169,471 speakers. Next in line is Yupik and Dakota, with nearly 19,000 people each.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton)