Yesterday, the House passed House Bill 26 by Rep. Andi Story regarding Alaska Native languages.
“Language is a fundamental part of culture, and the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council plays a critical role in supporting the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of Alaska Native languages,” said Representative Andi Story (D-Juneau). “By changing the Council’s name to the Council for Alaska Native Languages and increasing its membership, we are taking an important step toward recognizing the Council’s broader focus and ensuring that it has the capacity to effectively support Alaska Native languages and cultures.”
Additionally, HB26 adds Wetał (Ts’etsa’ut), Cup’ig, and Benhti Kokhwt’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana) and Sahcheeg xut’een xneege’ (Middle Tanana) as official languages, as they were unintentionally left out when Alaska’s Indigenous languages became official languages in 2014.
“It is important that our State’s Indigenous languages be recognized – as they are languages that have been spoken for over thousands of years on the lands of Alaska by the Indigenous peoples of our regions,” said Representative Maxine Dibert (D-Downtown Fairbanks). “They are also tied to Alaska Native peoples today and with deep, cultural meaning as an inseparable piece of cultural heritage.”
House Bill 26 now moves to the Senate for consideration.