U.S. President Donald Trump signed a measure that extends federal grant programs aimed at preserving Indigenous languages and expands eligibility so more tribes can participate. The measure cleared the House with bipartisan support, while Senate approved the measure in June this year.
The legislation, named the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, was sponsored by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. The legislation was named after Esther Martinez, a traditional storyteller and Tewa language advocate from New Mexico’s Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. She died in 2006. Currently, there are over 40 active grants totalling more than $11 million U.S., that are being used for language preservation and immersion efforts. According to the CBC, Martinez’s Pueblo was awarded a grant earlier this year after seeing a decline in fluent Tewa speakers and the increase of English as the primary language in the homes of tribal members.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat and Laguna Pueblo member who co-chairs the Congressional Native American Caucus, said programs that support language preservation are often underfunded.
“Now that our bill honoring the legacy of Pueblo storyteller and self-taught linguist Esther Martinez is signed into law, we will move forward on important work to revitalize our languages and traditions,” Haaland said.