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Alaska lawmakers weigh bill to declare Native languages official

Filed Under: Education | Politics
More on: alaska, alaska native, languages

The Alaska House State Affairs Committee passed a bill that designates 20 Native languages as official languages in Alaska.

House Bill 216 drew unanimous support from the panel. It still requires a vote from another committee before it reaches the House floor.

"Our language is our very being. It's our culture. We were brought up with such respect to each other, to the Tlingit people, the Haida people, the Tsimshian people, the Yup'ik -- the whole state of Alaska with all those different languages being spoken," Tlingit elder Selina Everson told the committee, according to news reports. "It would be an honor to be recognized that is our culture -- is our language. It is our very heart and soul."

The bill names the Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup'ik, Alutiiq, Unangax, Dena'ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, Gwich'in, Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän, Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian as official languages, along with English. English will continue to be used on state documents and during state meetings.

Get the Story:
Bill making Native languages 'official' is passed by House committee (The Anchorage Daily news 4/2)
Alaska Native languages bill clears final House committee (KTOO 4/1)

An Opinion:
Kyle Wark: They ripped out our tongues: Language loss, historic trauma and HB 216 (The Alaska Dispatch 4/1)

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