Washington D.C. (KELO AM) - The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing this afternoon on the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act (S. 1948) and the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act (S. 2299). Mr. Thomas Shortbull, president of the Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota, testified before the committee.
“I appreciate Mr. Shortbull’s testimony before the Indian Affairs Committee today,” Johnson said. “His expertise and knowledge provided important insight to the committee, and I will continue to push until the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act is signed into law.”
The Native American Languages Act was first enacted by Congress in 1990 to reverse the dramatic decrease in the number of Native American languages. The Health and Human Services Department houses the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) which administers grant funding under the Native American Language Act. The funding provides opportunities to assess, plan, develop, and implement projects to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native languages.
In South Dakota, there are currently three grants operating in relation to Language Preservation for a total of nearly $718,000. The Oglala Lakota College has received two 3-year Administration for Native Americans (ANA) Native language grants for the development and support of its language programs. Oceti Wakan and the Red Cloud Indian School also received ANA grants in Fiscal Year 2013.
Senator Johnson and Senator Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act in May. This bill would reauthorize the Native American languages grant program through Fiscal Year 2019. The legislation was most recently reauthorized in 2006.
The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) support this legislation.