Tester Secures Major Investment to Preserve and Promote Native Languages

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured a major investment to help preserve and promote Native languages in a must pass budget bill.

Tester secured $1.9 million for Native language immersion in the 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriation Bill, a $300,000 increase from last year’s budget.

“Promoting Native languages preserves rich history, strengthens students’ cultural identity, and increases outcomes in the classroom,” Tester said. “These additional resources will help strengthen Native language immersion programs across Indian Country.”

All of the approximately 148 Native languages that are still spoken in the United States are at risk of extinction within the next 50 to 100 years, unless immediate and persistent action is taken. Eighty-three percent of these languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers each. Immersion schools and programs are an essential piece for language revitalization efforts and preserving the livelihood of these cultures.

Tester is also sponsoring the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act to reauthorize Native language grant initiatives and expand eligibility for tribes to access the grants.

The 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriation Bill is one of the 12 annual must-pass government funding bills. The bill was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee today and will now await a final vote on the Senate floor.