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. ANA typically provides funding for Native languages in two program areas:

Native Language Preservation & Maintenance

The Native Language Preservation and Maintenance (P&M) program provides funding for projects to support assessments of the status of the native languages in an established community, as well as the planning, designing, restoration, and implementing of native language curriculum and education projects to support a community's language preservation goals. Native American communities include American Indian tribes (federally-recognized and non-federally recognized), Native Hawaiians, Alaskan Natives, and Native American Pacific Islanders

Esther Martinez Immersion

The Esther Martinez Immersion program (formerly called the Esther Martinez Initiative) supports the development of self-determining, healthy, culturally and linguistically vibrant, self-sufficient Native American communities. This Funding Opportunity Announcement is focused on community-driven projects designed to revitalize the native American languages to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of these languages and the culture of Native peoples for future generations. Immersion and Restoration grant funding is awarded in according with the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act of 2006. The initiative provides funding to support three-year projects being implemented by Native American Language Nests, Survival Schools, and Restoration Programs.

Last Reviewed: January 10, 2018