Alaska Legislature Seeks to Protect Alaska Native Languages from Extinction

Rep. Dan Ortiz

HCR 19 Urges Gov. Walker to Declare a “Linguistic Emergency” to Prioritize the Survival of Alaska Native Languages

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed a resolution calling for action to ensure the survival of Alaska Native Languages. House Concurrent Resolution 19, sponsored by Representative Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) passed the Alaska House of Representatives last month, and today the Alaska State Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 20-0.

“The outpouring of support for this resolution shows a tremendous level of concern for the survival of Alaska Native languages,” said Rep. Ortiz. “As Alaskans, we cherish our history and culture. The unique and beautiful Alaska Native languages we are seeking to protect with HCR 19 are an essential part of Alaska Native culture and our shared culture as Alaskans. In this resolution, we essentially issued a call to action to all stakeholders in the fight for survival for these Alaska Native languages. I am one of those stakeholders, and I look forward to getting to work.”

With the passage of HCR 19, the Alaska Legislature 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.

House Concurrent Resolution 19 passed the Alaska State Senate today by a vote of 20-0 after passing the Alaska House of Representatives on March 19th by a vote of 34-4. After a concurrence vote, HCR 19 will be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, please contact Caroline Hamp in Rep. Ortiz’s office at (907) 465-3824.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889

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Juneau AK, 99801