Amid cheers and clapping from spectators in a packed room, the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee unanimously moved forward a bill symbolically making 20 Alaska Native languages official languages of the state along with English.
Savoogna High School student Chelsea Miklahook told the committee her high school no longer teaches her native language and she was eager to learn it. Savoogna is located on St. Lawrence Island.
The committee room was packed by Native and non-Native speakers ranging from Savoogna and Bethel to Tanacross and Southeast Alaska.
Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat from Sitka, who authored the bill said it does not have the force of law, but is only symbolic in giving the languages recognition.
The bill now goes before the House State Affairs Committee.