Ensuring Survival of Native American Languages
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Indian Affairs Committee last week unanimously advanced legislation to support Native American language revitalization programs for consideration by the full Senate. On January 29, 2019, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK) joined Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in introducing the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, to improve the grant program that funds a variety of language learning activities such as Native language immersion and language teacher training.
Specifically, the bill reauthorizes the Native American Languages Preservation Act through Fiscal Year 2024, decreases the number of students required to participate in programs in order to receive funding, and makes it easier for smaller Alaska Native communities to receive language revitalization grant funding.
“By maintaining and revitalizing the languages of our Alaska Native communities, we are strengthening and empowering these communities. We know that revitalizing Native languages is integral to culture and identity,” said Senator Murkowski. “By removing some of the burdensome restrictions for schools and organizations receiving grant funding for Native language programs, this legislation ensures even the smallest populated communities have the resources they need to safeguard the survival of Native languages for generations to come.”
Currently, four tribes in Alaska received Esther Martinez grants: Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Chickaloon Native Village, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc., and Yakutat Tlingit Tribes.