Huffington Post has published an article laying out why the two pieces of legislation moving through Congress now are so important to saving Native American languages.
Passage and implementation of the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act (H.R.4214/S.1948) and the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R.726/S.2299) would provide key financial and legislative support for Native American language revitalization. Not a single Native American language is deemed “safe” for survival according to UNESCO’s Atlas of World Languages in Danger.
The author of this lucid post is Colleen Fitzgerald, Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Native American Languages Lab at The University of Texas at Arlington.
“That both Native American Languages bills have bipartisan support is impressive,” Fitzgerald writes. “Co-sponsors come from states where Native languages are spoken, taught, promoted, and most especially, valued, such as Alaska, Montana, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, among others. House Resolution 4214 is sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, a tribe actively engaged on behalf of their language, but one that is severely endangered with 70 or fewer fluent speakers.”
Fitzgerald is also co-Director of the Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop, collaborating with the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program, and teaching in venues such as the American Indian Language Development Institute, workshops put on by the Oklahoma Native Language Association, as well as onsite with various tribal language programs.