Congress Passes Native American Language Bill, Sending Legislation to President’s Desk
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed S. 256, the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, a bill that protects the survival and continuity of Native American languages by strongly funding them from fiscal year 2020 through 2024. It also aims to help more educational programs benefit from grants by reducing the minimum number of enrollees required for these programs. The Bill was introduced in January by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and it passed the Senate on June 28.
“Native languages remain a vital part of not only tribal identity and culture, but our nation’s history as well,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who chairs the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, in a statement after the legislation passed.
“The passage of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act reaffirms reaffirms Congress’ commitment to supporting native languages and provides the opportunity for tribal communities to preserve their linguistic heritage and traditions,” Hoeven continued. “Now that the bill has been passed by Congress, it will go to the President’s desk for his signature.”
S. 256 was cosponsored by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).