Facing extinction, Alaska Native speakers urge recognition of 'linguistic emergency'

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - If current trends continue, Alaska’s native languages are on a path to become extinct by the end of the century. That’s the conclusion of a 2018 report by the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council (ANLPAC).

The report prompted lawmakers in the state House of Representatives to overwhelmingly pass House Concurrent Resolution 19 (HCR 19), urging the governor to declare “a state of linguistic emergency.” With bipartisan support, the resolution was transmitted to the Senate and is awaiting committee action.

According to HCR 19, the governor would urge state agencies to “work expeditiously and actively” to ensure the survival and continued use of Alaska Native Languages. It also promises strengthened cooperation between lawmakers and Alaska Native organizations.

“We are at a critical tipping point and while Alaska Native peoples have fully realized the cumulative effect of policies that led to the banning of our languages and loss of identity, we know the power and resilience gained when we bring them back and we truly begin to heal,” the ANLPAC report stated.

Watch the video above to learn more about the resolution and an effort by the next generation of Alaskans to keep the Tlingit language alive.

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