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Endangered Languages Program Update: Celebrating Native American Languages at the Library of Congress

Join Cultural Survival and the Library of Congress in celebrating innovative tribal language programs, and the Native American language heroes revitalizing America’s ancient linguistic heritage.  Celebrate their efforts, learn about the challenges they face, and share in their successes.  Library curatorial staff will point to resources within the institution's vast collections, with a focus on manuscripts, photos, and other archival material that tribal language programs can incorporate into local curricula.

Celebrating Native American Language Revitalization in Film

10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21

Public Program at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, Mumford Room, Washington, D.C.

UNESCO estimates that a language vanishes every 14 days worldwide, noting that 139 Native languages remain in the U.S.—70 spoken fluently by only the elderly. Many tribal language educators have developed ingenious strategies and nurturing environments to maximize the rapidly closing window of opportunity with their last fluent speakers. Other Native communities are breathing new life into sleeping languages aided by archival documentation and—when available—comparisons with closely related languages still spoken.  Regardless of where tribal communities fall along the continuum between language shift and reclamation, nearly every Native American community in the U.S. today grapples with how to teach young people to become fluent speakers capable of complex communication in a tribal language—and prepared to teach future generations.

10:00AM–10:30AM Welcome Remarks

Library of Congress American Folklife Center and Cultural Survival 

10:30AM11:15AM Presentation of the Library of Congress resources and collections of Native American materials by Library of Congress curatorial staff 

11:15 AM -1:00 PM Feature Film screening: We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân 

(Followed by Q and A with community language advocates and language apprentices from the Mashpee Wampanoag and Santa Ynez Chumash Tribes)

1:00 PM  – 2:00 PM Lunch on your own in the Madison Building cafeteria or on Pennsylvania Avenue

2:00 PM  – 3:30 PM Short film screenings, including selections from and Minnesota Public Television's First Speakers: Revitalizing the Ojibwe Language

(Followed by Q and A with community member(s)/language advocate(s)

3:30PM close program

All events at the Library of Congress are free and open to the public.  No lobbying activities are permitted on-site, and no endorsement of any political positions is implied hosting this event.


For more information please contact Cultural Survival endangered languages program officer Jennifer Weston at jweston[at] or 617.441.5400 ext.15