[lg policy] Heritage Briefs Collection (c)2011 Center for Applied Linguistics September 2011 1

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 30 15:47:34 UTC 2011

Heritage Briefs Collection ©2011 Center for Applied Linguistics September 2011 1

Native American Language Policy in the United States Larisa Warhol,
Ph.D. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

It is estimated that there are 175 Native American languages spoken in
the United States (Krauss, 1998). Native American languages have a
unique position in the United States in policy and legislation of
federal, state, and tribal governments. Because the federal government
recognizes the sovereign (self-governing) status of Native American
tribes, tribal communities are able to put forward policies to protect
their languages (Wilkins & Lomawaima, 2001). This sovereign status is
not shared by other language minority communities. The United States
has created official federal language policy only for Native American
languages through the Native American Languages Act 1990/1992.
Official language policy is more prevalent in state governments, with
32 states declaring English as their official language. Yet some state
governments have also recognized and created language policies to
support Native American languages (McCoy, 2005). Tribes have also
created their own tribal language policies to protect their languages
(Zepeda, 1990). These recent trends contrast with historical policies
toward Native American languages. Historically, the federal government
employed schooling as the primary tool for cultural and linguistic
eradication to assimilate Native American communities. These historic
policies have had lingering effects on the current state of Native
American languages. Therefore, despite policies that now protect and
preserve Native American languages, 90% of Native American languages
are moribund or endangered (Moseley, 2010). At the same time, almost
all Native American communities are engaged in language maintenance
and revitalization efforts (Hinton & Hale, 2001; McCarty & Zepeda,
2006; Reyhner & Lockhart, 2009). This brief examines federal, state,
and tribal Native American language policies in the United States.

Complete pdf at:

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