indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Sovereignty and E-Commerce:  Innovating and Reshaping the  Borders of Indian Country - Arizona State University Third Annual Tribal Government E-Commerce CLE Conference
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native language preservation bill becomes law
Friday, December 15, 2006

A bill that will help tribes preserve their languages was signed into law by President Bush on Thursday.

H.R.4766, the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, authorizes funding for new programs that tribes will use to prevent the loss of their heritage and culture. "These languages will be preserved with attention and effort. Once lost, they will never be recovered," said Ryan Wilson, the president of the National Indian Education Association.

The act took on significance this fall following the death of Esther Martinez, a Native language teacher and storyteller from New Mexico. She was killed in a car accident on September 16, just days after receiving a National Heritage Fellowship award for her efforts to preserve the Tewa language.

"The Native languages were precious to Esther Martinez, and this bill is designed to help preserve them," said Wilson. "It is a fitting tribute to her life's work."

New Mexico's Congressional delegation worked to pass the bill in the closing weeks of the 109th Congress. It had passed the House in September but was held up in the Senate and failed to gain approval before the November elections.

After some feverish lobbying by the National Alliance to Save Native Languages, a coalition that includes the NIEA and other organizations, the measure passed the Senate earlier this month. Tribes then turned their attention to the White House to get it signed before the end of the year.

"The urgent need to protect and preserve Native American languages is clear," said Rep. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), whose district includes Ohkay Owingeh, the pueblo where Martinez taught her language for decades. "We must invest in their preservation by implementing immersion programs."

By authorizing funding for language nests, language survival schools and language restoration programs, supporters hope to prevent the loss of additional languages. Of the more than 300 languages spoken in the U.S. at the time of European contact, only 175 remain, according to the Indigenous Language Institute.

By 2050, only 20 will be spoken with regular use, the organization says, unless efforts are taken to teach the languages to new generations.

The United States played a major role in the loss of Native languages. Students at government boarding schools were prohibited from using their languages. The Bureau of Indian Affairs at one point outlawed ceremonies, a critical method of preserving languages and history.

Through the government policies of termination, relocation and assimilation, the efforts continued through the 1950s and 1960s even as the U.S military enlisted Native soldiers to create unbreakable codes using their languages. In 2000, President Bush honored Navajo Code Talkers who served in World War II.

"For many years, tribes were discouraged from speaking their native languages and now many languages have disappeared. This legislation will help ensure native languages are preserved, and passed on to future generation," said Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico).

The grants for the new programs will be distributed by the Administration for Native Americans within the Department of Health and Human Services. Wilson said tribes must work to ensure Congress and the White House provide adequate funds to carry out the bill.

Native Languages Bill:
Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act (H.R.4766)

2006 National Heritage Fellowships:
Bio: Esther Martinez | List of Recipients

Relevant Links:
Indigenous Language Institute - http://www.indigenous-language.org

Related Stories:
Cherokee language appears on university team caps (12/12)
Native language bill finally clears Congress (12/8)
San Manuel Band hopes to save Serrano language (12/05)
Navajo Code Talkers lobby for Native language bill (11/14)
Dictionary to help preserve Han Athabaskan language (11/07)
Gathering celebrates Oklahoma tribal languages (10/24)
Celebration of Oklahoma Indian Language and Culture (10/19)
Eastern Band translates new book into Cherokee (10/03)
Tulalip Tribes lose last Lushootseed speaker (10/03)
Opinion: English comes first, not Native languages (9/27)
Esther Martinez language act up for House vote (09/25)
Man arraigned for crash that killed Pueblo storyteller (9/22)
Hundreds pay tribute to Pueblo storyteller, linguist (9/21)
Man charged with death of Pueblo storyteller (9/20)
Funeral for Esther Martinez set for Wednesday (9/19)
Esther Martinez, linguist and storyteller, dies at 94 (9/18)
Montana tribe uses technology to preserve languages (09/01)
House committee holds field hearing on languages (09/01)
House committee to hold field hearing on languages (08/30)
Oklahoma tribes work to preserve languages (08/29)
Pueblo woman keeps Tewa language, culture alive (08/28)
Eastern Cherokee Band to buy language translators (08/28)
Opinion: Native language preservation can't wait (8/28)
Pueblo woman wins National Heritage Fellowship (06/16)
Native languages slowly losing fluent speakers (7/28)
Arapaho elders certified to teach language (7/19)
Library of Congress to publish Zuni language works (7/13)
Eastern Cherokees work to preserve language (7/13)

Copyright © 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Bill removes blood quantum requirement for Five Civilized Tribes (5/26)
Mark Trahant: Voting is just sooo hard in the era of Donald Trump (5/26)
Adrian Jawort: Should non-Natives ever write about our people? (5/26)
Native turnout fails to sway closely-watched election in Montana (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee council ousts chief for only 2nd time in history (5/26)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe into election season with crowded field (5/26)
Lawmakers once again seek fixes to 'broken' Indian Health Service (5/25)
Secretary Zinke headed to National Congress of American Indians (5/25)
Bureau of Indian Affairs opens listening sessions on reorganization (5/25)
Kevin Washburn: Indian Country feels the pain with Donald Trump (5/25)
Yakama Nation landowners weigh offers as buy-back winds down (5/25)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant found not guilty (5/25)
Secretary Zinke plans to work with tribes on drilling push in Alaska (5/25)
Republican candidate to replace Ryan Zinke charged with assault (5/25)
Democrats drop Andrew Jackson from name of event in Arkansas (5/25)
Chickasaw Nation breaks ground on $10M casino by Texas border (5/25)
Washoe Tribe celebrates 1st anniversary of unique gaming facility (5/25)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community shares update on casino work (5/25)
Trump administration ready to let Cobell program run out of funds (5/24)
Northwest tribes slam Trump's budget for cuts to Indian programs (5/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe finds one bright spot in Trump's budget (5/24)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe reports jury conviction of non-Indian offender (5/24)
YES! Magazine: Native birthing center maintains tribal traditions (5/24)
Peter d'Errico: Founding Fathers conspired to take land from tribes (5/24)
Eastern Cherokee chief questions fairness of impeachment hearing (5/24)
Another guilty plea in theft of gaming funds from Winnebago Tribe (5/24)
Tribes clear legislative hurdle in bid for new casino in Connecticut (5/24)
President Trump confirms Indian Country's worst fears with budget (5/23)
Office of Special Trustee pitches lower budget as 'taxpayer' savings (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.