The LSA is pleased to report that the Esther Martinez Native American Preservation Act was passed in the Senate on November 29, 2017, and referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce the following day, November 30th. The bill reauthorizes federal Native American language programs until 2023, as well as reducing minimums for program enrollment that will make more programs eligible for funding. The bill, named in honor of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo traditional storyteller and language advocate Esther Martinez (d. 2006), has been an important part of the LSA's legislative campaign in support of Native American language revitalization in this and previous sessions of Congress.

The Esther Martinez Native American Language Act aims to extend and update two grant programs administered by the Administration for Native Americans at the Department of Health and Human Services. These grant programs, the Native American Languages Preservation and Maintenance (P&M) grant program and the Esther Martinez Initiative (EMI) grant program, provide opportunities for tribal communities to assess, plan, develop, and implement projects that ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native languages. The legislation reauthorizes both programs through FY2022 and makes some key modifications: it increases the maximum possible duration of all Esther Martinez grants from three years to five, and it decreases the required minimum number of enrollees in Native American language nests funded by the grant program from 10 to 5 enrollees, and in the Native American language survival schools from 15 to 10 enrollees. This legislation would make it possible for more Native communities to receive resources to revitalize and maintain their mother tongues.

Continue to support Native American language revitalization and the Esther Martinez Native American Preservation Act as this bill moves to discussion in the House. We encourage linguists to contact their members of Congress in support of these issues. The LSA has partnered with the National Humanities Alliance to host this action alert you can use to contact your member of Congress directly. Comprehensive information on all of the programs mentioned above may be found here.