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Murkowski Praises Final Passage of Esther Martinez Native American Languages Act

Location: Washington, DC

Murkowski Praises Final Passage of Esther Martinez Native American Languages Act

Creates New Grant Programs For Native Language Immersion Programs

Senator Lisa Murkowski praised the Senate for approving H.R. 4766, the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Act of 2006. The legislation passed the Senate earlier this week and now heads to the President's desk.

The bill extends grant funding for Native language preservation and education activities through 2012. It also creates a new focus for Native American language activities by directing federal resources to help language immersion programs, which are gaining popularity in Western Alaska. These programs typically dedicate 500 hours of instruction in a Native language.

"The Esther Martinez Native Language Act will give Alaska school districts and Native organization an additional funding source to pass traditional languages down to our Native youth and ensure the survival of Native languages for generations to come," said Senator Murkowski.

The legislation also encourages the funding of language preservation and enrichment programs. In many parts of Alaska - particularly urban districts - Native language immersion is not as practical as enrichment programs. Grant recipients can choose to use the funds for after-school programs if they wish.

HR 4766, a House Bill, was introduced by Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM). Senator Murkowski was one of nine Senators credited by the National Indian Education Association for moving the legislation through the Senate.

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