U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced July 30 that the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act (S. 2299) successfully passed out of the Indian Affairs Committee and will now head to the Senate Floor.
“Native languages are a link to previous generations and will help preserve Native cultures for future generations,” Johnson said. “This bill will reauthorize one of the few federal funding opportunities available to tribes and tribal organizations to ensure that Native languages are not lost.”
Following Administration and tribal stakeholder input during an Indian Affairs Committee hearing in June, Senator Johnson worked to strengthen the bill during committee markup. Senator Johnson’s changes to the bill will increase the sustainability and flexibility of the Native language grant program. Also, more language schools and language nests in low populated and remote areas will be eligible to access this important grant funding. The duration of grant awards will be extended up to five years to give projects a more stable funding source and increase the impact of each project.
Senator Johnson introduced the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act in May. The Native American Languages Act was first signed into law in 1992 and established a grant program within the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to ensure the survival of Native American languages. The Native American languages grant program was last reauthorized by Congress with the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act in 2006. It reauthorized and expanded the Native American language grant program to include a grant initiative to support and strengthen Native American language immersion programs.