December 7, 2011 1 Comment Chad Nilep In the news, Language Diversity, Language Loss

The Linguistic Society of America’s Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation is carrying out a letter-writing campaign to urge President Obama to sign an executive order drafted by White House staff and Native American leaders. According to the LSA-CELP, “U.S. government agencies would be directed to ensure that their policies, procedures, and functions support community-based language revitalization. It would compel governmental agencies to follow through on the promises of the Native American Languages Act and the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act.” (PDF poster here)

Although neither the LSA-CELP poster nor their Take Action! web page specify the content of the executive order, I believe that this draft, from the Linguistic Society of America’s documents, is the order in question. (If not, the current draft is probably similar.)

That draft order declares that it is the policy of the United States to allow Native Americans to protect and preserve Native American languages. It orders federal agencies to identify current policies that may conflict with the Native American Languages Act of 1990 (PDF of the law from the National Association for Bilingual Education) and to propose rule changes to ameliorate the conflict. The order would also create an Interagency Working Group on Native American Language Revitalization.

Conflicts tend to occur in education policy, where laws passed to promote the use and learning of English can impinge on Native American languages and other minority languages.

Link roundup:
LSA Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation
LSA “talking points” for letters on this issue (DOCX format)
Chad Nilep’s personal reflection, “Who speaks Shoshone, and when?”