New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland has introduced the U.S. House of Representatives companion bill to the Senate’s Native American Languages Resource Center Act, which would create a designated resource center for the protection and stability of Native American language education.
“The beauty of a Native language is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, but the federal government has fallen short on resources to teach these languages. I learned some Kares from my grandparents and my Mom, who still speaks our language fluently, but we’re at risk of losing the language and the traditional knowledge that comes with it.
That’s why Senator Schatz and I introduced the Native American Languages Resource Center Act. This bill will protect our Native languages and ensure the next generation has access to the traditions of our ancestors,” commented Haaland, vice-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
Strict curfews and stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in hard-hit Native communities are threatening the progress made by grassroots initiatives to preserve indigenous languages.
Now, more than ever, Congress needs to take decisive actions in furtherance of the trust responsibility of the U.S. and carry out the commitments and policies enacted under the Native American Languages Act.
The Native American Languages Resource Center would:
• Be a consortium of institutions that reflect the diversity of Native American languages, cultures and communities throughout the U.S.
• Provide support for Native American language medium/immersion programs and schools serving children of all ages and at all levels of learning, from Pre-K to PhD.
• Provide a central outreach to other Native American language programs.
• Provide necessary resources and best practices to support distance learning.
The Native American Languages Resource Center Act is endorsed by Tribes, Tribal organizations, and groups and organizations supporting the protection and stability of Native American language education.
“The National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs supports the Native American Languages Resource Center Act. As we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the passage of the 1990 Native American Languages Act, we applaud the vision of Representative Haaland and Senator Schatz to establish a center to support Native American Languages. We must quicken the pace over the next thirty years in our language revitalization efforts to ensure this protection and promotion is rightfully sustained for our next generations. A focused Native American Language Center is an important next step to support the rights and freedom to use our Native American languages now and into the future,” explained Leslie Harper, president, National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs.
“The establishment of a Native American Languages Resource Center will play an important role in amplifying the voices of Native Americans and ensure that Native languages will live on for generations to come. The Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) is proud to endorse legislation that provides essential resources to support the revitalization of Native languages in communities across the country,” added Alissa Rutkowski, policy manager, JNCL and the National Council for Languages and International Studies.