Durbin Feeling Native Languages Act Alaska Native Community Listening Session

August 17, 2023

The purpose of the Durbin Feeling Native American Language Act is to improve interagency efforts to support Native American language reclamation efforts, reduce inefficiencies and duplications that impede on Indigenous communities, and outline the status of the vitality of Alaska Native and Native American languages, including Hawaiʻi. 

This legislation also charges the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to lead the development and implementation of a nation-wide survey on Native languages every 5 years. ANA will work with other federal agencies and engage with Native language speakers and language experts, in the development of this survey. 

Written testimonies from Alaska Native Language Community Leaders can be submitted to anacommissioner@acf.hhs.gov through August 25, 2023.

The Listening Session Prompts for comments are as follows:

Prompt 1: ANA does not have enough resources to survey individuals. ANA is considering options to disseminating the survey to stakeholders representing Alaska Native and Native American communities pursuant to the law. Please provide feedback on this approach. What are the proper channels for engaging the Alaska Native and Native American language community?

Prompt 2: In addition to estimating the number of speakers, should we collect details about speaker fluency? How should speaker fluency be conceptualized and categorized?

Prompt 3: What information about language usage would be important for ANA to collect? Examples include:

1.  Number or percent of households who have Alaska Native and Native American language speakers.

2.  Number and type(s) of programs in your community that offer Alaska Native and Native American language learning opportunities.

3.  Other venues where Alaska Native and Native American language is used (meetings, traditional ceremonies, Elders program, etc.)

Prompt 4: What is the best way to estimate unmet resource needs to strengthen and protect the vitality of the Alaska Native language and other Native American languages?

Prompt 5: What additional information would be important to include in the survey?

Prompt 6: What other thoughts, concerns, or ideas do you have about this effort?

Link to the Durbin Feeling Native American Language Act 

Link to Native American Languages Act

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