U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today introduced legislation to reauthorize the Native American Languages Preservation Act. The Act, which expires at the end of this fiscal year, aims to reverse the dramatic decrease in the number of Native American languages that have survived over the years. U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced identical legislation today in the House of Representatives.
"Since the Native American Languages Act became law, we have made considerable progress in keeping Native languages alive," said Johnson. "Preserving Native languages strengthens our Native cultures. The continuity of these languages is a link to previous generations and should be preserved for future generations. The living language is an intricate part of understanding Native culture. Congress has a lot on its plate, but it is important for us to reauthorize this important legislation."
According to the National Indian Education Association, by the year 2050, there may only be 20 Native American languages remaining. The Native American Languages Act allows for grants to be awarded to several different language survival programs. It has been shown that, in addition to the preservation of Native languages, this type of learning promotes higher academic success for students.