HHS Tab for ‘Preservation and Maintenance’ of Native American Languages for 2011: $13,242,720

Penny Starr | July 5, 2012 | 1:01pm EDT
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President Barack Obama stands with Hartford “Sonny” and Mary Black Eagle, right, after speaking at the the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, at the Interior Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government’s tab for the “preservation and maintenance” of Native American languages is $13,242,720 for 2011, according to the agency’s online database and confirmed by Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of public affairs for the program.

With authorization from Congress, the Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Family -- through the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) -- awards grants to Native American groups around the country. Groups eligible for the grant funding include American Indians and other Native Americans.

“ANA believes language revitalization and continuation are two of the first steps taken in preserving and strengthening a community’s culture,” the ANA explanation states on its web site. “Use of native language builds identity and encourages communities to move toward social unity and self-sufficiency.”

The laws – the 1990 Native American Languages Act and the 2006 Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act – are necessary because of “federal policies.”

“Recognizing that the history of federal policies toward Indian and other Native American people has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of Native American languages that have survived over the past 500 years, Congress enacted the Native American Languages Act.

“The intent of the Act is to assist native communities to reverse this decline,” the explanation of the law states.

Grant funds are used to “assess, plan, develop and implement projects to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of native languages.”

The 2011 grant awards range from $75,102 for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Sault St. Marie, Mich., to $303,350 for the Red Cloud Indian School, Inc. in Pine Ridge, S.D.

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