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Alaska Native Language "Linguistic Emergency" Resolution Considered In Senate Committee

Representative Dan Ortiz, an Independent from Ketchikan, introduced a resolution last week calling for Governor Bill Walker to “issue an administrative order recognizing a ‘linguistic emergency” for Alaska Native languages.


Update: The Community & Regional Affairs Committee meeting has been canceled today. But discussion of the "linguistic emergency" is likely to get picked back up at next Tuesday’s meeting.  


The Alaska Native Linguistic Emergency resolution is ready to move through committee in the state Senate. It has already passed the House.


On Tuesday, the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee opened its hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 19 with remarks from the measure's sponsor, Representative Dan Ortiz of Ketchikan, who called Alaska Native culture and language a central part of the state’s cultural identity. He told the Senators that passing it would build on actions already taken by the Legislature.


“Mr. Chairman, the state has moved in the right direction by acknowledging and recognizing the 20 Alaska Native languages as official languages of the state,” Ortiz said. “However, recognition is just the first step.”


Ortiz's resolution would urge the Governor to implement a recommendation put forward by the Alaska Native Language Preservation Advisory Council, or ANLPAC, this year.


“In their 2018 bi-annual report to the Governor and Legislature, ANLPAC warned that all 20 Alaska Native Languages are in crisis, and most are predicted to become extinct or dormant by the end of the 21st century,” said Ortiz. “The state of Alaska can no longer sustain these rates of language loss unless policy changes are enacted that support people who are learning and speaking Alaska Native Languages throughout the state.”


The Community and Regional Affairs Committee resumes discussion of the "linguistic emergency" resolution Thursday, April 5 at 3:30 p.m.


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