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Federal Lawmakers Propose Bill Supporting Native American Languages

A bipartisan bill to support Native American languages was proposed last week in the U.S. Senate.

Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska proposed the Durbin Feeling Language Act of 2020. Durbin Feeling was a renowned Cherokee citizen and linguist who passed away in August.

This new bill comes on the anniversary of the original Native American Languages Act, which was signed into law by George H. W. Bush in 1990. The act rejected past policies that suppressed Native languages and provided federal funding for language revitalization programs.

This new bill, which is supported by Cherokee Nation, would require the president to review federal agencies compliance with the Native American Languages Act and provide more support for agencies that give support to tribes.

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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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