by Greg Lincoln
The villages of Kotlik, Napaimute, Kwinhagak, Chuathbaluk, and our hometribe Nunakauyarmiut Tribe (Toksook Bay) were awarded Emergency Language Preservation grants from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) on September 8th, 2021.
“The American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding supports Tribes and Native organizations as they seek to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages. Native American communities, including federally and state-recognized Tribes, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, experienced disproportionately higher rates of virus infection and loss of life due to COVID-19. The ARP funding helps 210 indigenous communities preserve their indigenous languages,” says the ANA.
The program description for these grants details the importance of survival of our native languages.
“These funds will be used to make emergency awards to eligible recipients to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages during and after the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. Native languages and cultures are at a critical point in their existence due to the number of Elders and language speakers that have died as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Native languages are more than just words, as cultural values, tribal customs, and ceremony are embedded in them. Additionally, Indigenous languages serve as protective factors for Indigenous communities. Studies demonstrate that people who speak their Native language(s) have enhanced mental health and happiness, measured by lower rates of suicide, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation than those without language knowledge. This emergency funding is intended to support as many tribal and Native communities as possible in their efforts to maintain and preserve Native languages, as these are connected to also preserving Native culture and wellbeing,” states the grant project purpose.
“Native American communities, including federally and state-recognized Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, have had disproportionately higher rates of virus infection cases and loss of life due to COVID-19. Social distancing and closures have limited the ability to meet in-person for language instruction, cultural activities, and ceremonial practices that utilize Native languages. Many Native communities are unable to conduct language programming virtually due to inadequate technology, broadband, and infrastructure. Native Tribes and communities are at different stages of language preservation efforts. Because the needs are so diverse and great, ANA wants to strategically and equitably use this funding to support the needs of as many entities as possible that the legislative authority allows.”
Thank you to the grantors for their support of our native Yup’ik languages. Quyanarquci.