FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2018
House Calls for a “Linguistic Emergency” Declaration to Protect Alaska Native Languages
HCR 19 Urges Cooperation Among Stakeholders to Prioritize the Survival of Alaska Native Languages
Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 19, sponsored by Representative Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan), urging Alaska Governor Bill Walker to declare a “linguistic emergency” to help ensure the survival of Native language in Alaska. House Concurrent Resolution 19 calls on state agencies, the Alaska State Legislature, Alaska Native organizations, and others to work to strengthen policies to prioritize the continued use of Alaska Native languages.
“The speedy passage of this bill through the Alaska House of Representatives is a testament to the importance we place on the survival of Alaska Native languages,” said Rep. Ortiz. “I strongly believe that a linguistic emergency declaration is warranted because of the predictions that many of Alaska’s languages will become extinct by the end of the century. That’s unacceptable, and we should dedicate time and resources to make sure that does not happen.”
With the passage of HCR 19, the Alaska House of Representatives joins the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council in urging the declaration of a “linguistic emergency” by the Governor. Earlier this year, the council warned that most of the 20 recognized indigenous languages in Alaska are predicted to become extinct by the end of the 21st century unless there are policy changes to support the learning and speaking of these languages.
“When a language is lost, so is a huge part of the culture. Alaska Native languages are Alaska’s languages, and this resolution rightly calls attention to the urgency of this issue,” said HCR 19 co-sponsor Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), who sponsored legislation signed into law in 2014 making the 20 Native languages in Alaska official state languages.
House Concurrent Resolution 19 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 34-4. The resolution will be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact Jodie Gatti in Rep. Ortiz’s office at (907) 465-3824.