June 24, 2011

National Native Language Revitalization Summit

Summit celebrates native languages

By Nakia ZavallaOrganized by Cultural Survival, a proud member of the National Alliance to Save Native Languages, this annual summit’s 2011 goal was to convene language advocates at the Library of Congress and engage every one of the 62 members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees with Native language revitalization success stories.

As a tribe that has established a language reclamation project, our story is an important one to share. It demonstrates that a tribe can take a language that is near extinction and revitalize it for current and future generations to enjoy. We showed how investing tribal resources in our language revitalization efforts will help our tribal nation’s future.

The National Native Language Revitalization Summit relied both on the expert recommendations of national tribal policy organizations and on the local knowledge and recommendations of hundreds of grassroots tribal language programs like ours.

With scarcely 139 spoken Native languages remaining in the United States—and 70 of those spoken fluently only by the very elderly—the summit organizers believed it was important to act immediately to increase the limited federal support available for the nearly 600 tribal nations with a stake in revitalizing indigenous languages.

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