The LSA is extremely pleased to announce that The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Reauthorization Act was adopted by the US House of Representatives on December 9, 2019. Having already been approved unanimously by the US Senate earlier this year, the bill now heads to the White House for President Trump's consideration. The passage of the bill in this, the International Year of Indigenous Languages, is particularly important.The LSA has been working with colleague organizations to advocate for this legislation for most of this decade. This is a tremendous victory for all advocates of Native American language revitalization. The LSA thanks all of its members and the broader linguistics community for their active support of this legislation.

For more background on this legislation, read on below:

The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act

Nancy Richardson Steele, Karuk Tribe/Advocates

for California Indigenous Language Survival

The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Reauthorization Act would reauthorize two grant programs that support projects to preserve and revitalize Native languages in tribal communities: 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. These programs are a crucial source of funding for efforts to revive Native languages in tribal communities. 

The Senate has passed the act unanimously. Fill out the form to contact your representative and urge the House to do the same. Passage in the US House of Representatives is expected on Dec 9, 2019!

Action in 2019

  • Passage in the US House of Representatives occurred on Dec 9, 2019!

  • ACTION ALERT (Fall 2019): Address your support for Esther Martinez to House Leadership (The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer) or to your Representative (see link below) urging H.R. 912/S. 256 be brought directly to the House floor for immediate consideration. We strongly support this reauthorization and urge House Democratic leaders to bring this legislation to the House floor for a vote and urge Members of the House to cosponsor. Read on for more background information [pdf] from the lead sponsor in the House.
  • On June 27, the United States Senate passed S.256, the “Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act” (unanimously). The Joint National Committee for Languages put out an Action Alert to help get Esther Martinez across the finish-line in House.
  • On March 25, 2019, S.256 was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders; Calendar No. 42. 
  • On January 29th, 2019, S.256 was introduced in Senate and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs. S.256 has 7 co-sponsors. The House companion bill H.R.912 was introduced on January 30th, 2019, and had 16 co-sponsors at that time.

Send a message to your officials thanking them for their support the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Reauthorization Act. A sample letter and phone script are available.


Action in 2018

  • Unfortunately, the House never referred the bill out of committee and it did not receive a vote on the floor. It therefore must be re-introduced in the next session of Congress (see below for additional details).

Action in 2017

  • On November 30, 2017, S.254 passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
  • On February 8th, 2017, S.254 passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The committee also approved this legislation in the last Congress. S.254 had 7 co-sponsors upon introduction.
  • A companion bill to S.254 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R.1169. The bill had 25 co-sponsors upon introduction. It is currently pending with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.