ANA Awards Native American Language Funding through the American Rescue Plan

September 8, 2021

Today, the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Administration for Native Americans (ANA) announced the recipients of the Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance supplemental grant award through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP). ANA awarded approximately $20 million to a total of 210 grant recipients. ARP funding will assist Tribes and Native organizations as they seek to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages.

Native American communities, including federally and state-recognized Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, experienced disproportionately higher rates of virus infection and loss of life due to COVID-19. Social distancing and facility closures severely limited Native American communities’ ability to meet in-person for language instruction, cultural activities, and ceremonial practices that use Native languages. 

Native languages are a critical part of conveying accurate pandemic information to tribal members, especially when English is their second language,” stated JooYeun Chang, ACF’s Acting Assistant Secretary.  “ACF knows that Native languages play an important role in the overall well-being of Indigenous societies, from traditional healing practices to contemporary public health emergencies.  A key mission of ANA is to provide necessary funding and resources to Tribal nations to support language preservation and maintenance for generations to come.”

Historically, ANA funds Native language programs across the country to support the revitalization and protection of such a crucial aspect of Indigenous culture. Each year, ANA awards approximately $13 million in discretionary funds to 47 community-based language projects, on a competitive basis. ARP magnified those efforts this year by effectively enabling ANA to award funds to 210 additional projects.  These grant recipients will assist 227 Tribes and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander communities in the preservation and revitalization of approximately 130 languages. 

“ACF has taken a critical step towards equity by awarding Indigenous communities more language funding than ever before on a non-competitive basis. The pandemic has sadly hit our Native communities hard, yet still we rise. Our languages are interwoven into the fabric of so much of what we do, from our songs to our traditional teachings, and they help us heal from times like this. I look forward to all the hard work, including developing new resources and documenting living languages, providing instruction, engaging in language revitalization planning, and intergenerational engagement, the new recipients will accomplish with these resources to continue to preserve such a vital part of our cultures,” said ANA’s Acting Commissioner Michelle Sauve. 

Examples of awardees include:

  • The CHamoru Language Committee located in Guam is a first-time recipient of an ANA Language grant. Their project, ’A Sustainable Framework for Teaching and Learning CHamoru Nina’fitmen i Fina’nå’gue yan Ineyak i Fino’CHamoru,’ will create a foundation for building proficiency and fluency in CHamoru both in the home and in the schools. Due to the global health crisis, the community lost several first language speakers and, since the 1990 U.S. Census, Guam has shown a continuing decline in fluent CHamoru speakers. In 1990, fluent CHamoru speakers made up 26 percent of a total population of 133,152. By 2000, that number had already decreased 20 percent, and per the 2010 census, there were only 16 percent of CHamoru speakers remaining. 
  • The Nondalton Village Language Preservation Project is another first-time recipient of an ANA Language grant. The Nondalton Village is located near Lake Iliamna, Alaska, 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. Nondalton is a remote and isolated traditional community accessible only by air and water. Currently, there are only an estimated seven fluent elders speaking the Dena’ina language and few, if any, emerging speakers. There are also no current language learning resources available to the community except for the Dena’ina dictionary by James Kari. The Nondalton Village Language Preservation Project team will use funds to hire a language coordinator who will record and transcribe their language and stories with youth and Elders. The project team will also develop language resources and work to preserve documents written in the Dena'ina language.

Congress included $20 million in dedicated funding to address the pandemic’s impacts on Native languages in the American Rescue Plan Act — the biggest one-time investment in Native languages in American history,” said Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “And now, for the first time ever, the federal government will be able to use this ARP funding to provide equitable support for all Native American language communities. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I understand the importance of supporting Native American languages. That is why I will keep fighting for more federal resources to help community-driven Native language revitalization efforts thrive.”

ANA is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act Native Language Preservation and Maintenance supplemental grants.  View the list of ARP recipients.

Quotes

"Native languages are a critical part of conveying accurate pandemic information to tribal members, especially when English is their second language. ACF knows that Native languages play an important role in the overall well-being of Indigenous societies, from traditional healing practices to contemporary public health emergencies. A key mission of ANA is to provide necessary funding and resources to Tribal nations to support language preservation and maintenance for generations to come."
— JooYeun Chang, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families
"ACF has taken a critical step towards equity by awarding Indigenous communities more language funding than ever before on a non-competitive basis. The pandemic has sadly hit our Native communities hard, yet still we rise. Our languages are interwoven into the fabric of so much of what we do, from our songs to our traditional teachings, and they help us heal from times like this. I look forward to all the hard work, including developing new resources and documenting living languages, providing instruction, engaging in language revitalization planning, and intergenerational engagement, the new recipients will accomplish with these resources to continue to preserve such a vital part of our cultures."
— Michelle Sauve, Acting Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans
"Congress included $20 million in dedicated funding to address the pandemic’s impacts on Native languages in the American Rescue Plan Act – the biggest one-time investment in Native languages in American history. And now, for the first time ever, the federal government will be able to use this ARP funding to provide equitable support for all Native American language communities. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I understand the importance of supporting Native American languages. That is why I will keep fighting for more federal resources to help community-driven Native language revitalization efforts thrive."
— Senator Brian Schatz (HI), Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Contact

Administration for Children & Families
Office of Communications
330 C Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Email: media@acf.hhs.gov