Hearing focuses on revitalizing Native languages

A recent hearing of the Senate Indian Affair Committee in Washington D.C. focused on efforts to promote and preserve Native languages, with testimony from the Administration of Native Americans, tribal leadership and other tribal stakeholders.

During the Aug. 22 hearing, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, questioned recently appointed ANA Commissioner Jeannie Hovland on how she plans to engage and consult with tribal entities, Alaska Native corporations and other tribal non-profits and organizations on language revitalization issues. Murkowski also spoke of the need to ensure that smaller tribes with limited capacity have access to the ANA grants. ANA is a department within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established in 1974 through the Native American Programs Act.

Hovland told Murkowski that training and streamlining the grant process would make it easier to access those language preservation grants.

Murkowski stressed the importance of language revitalization programs and grants provided by the ANA by highlighting the success story of the village of Igiugig, a small village at the mouth of the Kvichak River and Lake Iliamna in Southwest Alaska which received an ANA language preservation and maintenance grant. The program reinvigorated students in Igiugig and led to measured success of those students at school, she said.

“The Igiugig School has a perfect 5-star rating on the Alaska School Performance Index star rating system,” Murkowski said. “Igiugig is just one of just a dozen schools in my state to receive a 5-star rating. The Igiugig School had an attendance record of 96.23 percent and a graduation rate of 100 percent.”