Vocabulary in Native American Languages: Powhatan Words



The major European names associated with the recording and documentation of the vocabulary, grammar and dialogue of mainland Narragansett and Massachusett are the 17th and 18th century Rhode Island and Massachusetts missionaries; i.e., Roger Williams (Narragansett Language), John Eliot (“The Apostle to the Indians”, Massachusett, Natick Dialect), Josiah Cotton (Massachusett, Plymouth-Cape Cod dialect), and others listed in individual essays.

The Oxford English Dictionary currently has 700 words of Indian origin.

Words in American Indian languages are often more than just a name for a person, place, or thing. Sometimes they have deeper meanings that tell a story. Just one word or a short phrase can explain some part of the people’s history or their relationship with the land.


Vocabulary set of Powhatan Indian words

Most of these words were assimilated during the period of 16th to 20th century, when the British were following an aggressive imperial policy abroad, especially the Indian subcontinent.