About Native Languages

ANA believes language revitalization and continuation are two of the first steps taken in preserving and strengthening a community’s culture. Use of native language builds identity and encourages communities to move toward social unity and self-sufficiency.

Recognizing that the history of federal policies toward Indian and other Native American people has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of Native American languages that have survived over the past 500 years, Congress enacted the Native American Languages Act (Public Laws 101-477 and 102-524). The intent of the Act is to assist native communities to reverse this decline.

Additionally, Congress passed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act (Public Law 109-394) in 2006. The law amends the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide for the revitalization of Native American languages through native language immersion and restoration programs.

ANA funding provides opportunities to assess, plan, develop and implement projects to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of native languages. We encourage language applicants to involve elders and other community members in determining proposed language project goals and implementing project activities.

The Esther Martinez Initiative is a Special Initiative under the Native Language Preservation and Maintenance grant competition.