Assistant Speaker Ben R. Lujan and House Democrats expected to pass the reauthorization of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act on Monday.
On Monday the House will pass legislation to safeguard Indigenous languages – one of the most far-reaching bills Congress will pass this year directly addressing Native sovereignty and heritage. The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act will help preserve Native languages to combat the predicted extinction of all of the approximately 148 Native languages still spoken within the next 50 to 100 years.
Named after a New Mexican Tewa teacher and storyteller known for her dedication to revitalizing her people’s language, Esther Martinez Native American language grants provides opportunities for educators and tribal communities to safeguard the vitality of Native languages.
Biennial evaluations by the Department of Health and Human Services show the program increases fluency with 4,000 speakers and trains 170-280 Native language teachers each year. This bill has widespread, bipartisan support from Indian Country, teachers unions, and educational and linguistic consortia.
Nearly 100 percent of the Democratic Caucus supports this bill, which also has Republican support.