State Prioritizes the Survival of Alaska Native Languages
Administrative Order 300 supports Native language revitalization and improves tribal collaboration
Governor Walker signs AO 300 at the First Alaskans Institute’s Social Justice Summit in Juneau on Sunday, September 23.
Office of Governor Bill Walker
JUNEAU, AK—Governor Bill Walker issued Administrative Order 300, formally acknowledging the emergency faced by Alaska’s Native languages, supporting their revitalization, and improving government-to-government relationships between Alaska’s state and tribal governments. More than 200 Alaskans, including Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, attended the signing of the order during a traditional Warming of the Hands ceremony at the First Alaskans Institute’s Social Justice Summit in Juneau.
“This order focuses on concrete ways Alaska can show leadership to support its first people and their languages — one of our richest and most at-risk resources.” Governor Walker said. “It’s our responsibility to acknowledge government’s historical role in the suppression of indigenous languages, and our honor to move into a new era by supporting their revitalization.”
The Department of Education and Early Development will collaborate with the Alaska Native Language Preservation Advisory Council (ANLPAC), the University of Alaska, state agencies, and other stakeholders to integrate Alaska Native languages into public schools and universities. As they create and update public signs, all state departments will begin the process of implementing bilingual signage that recognizes indigenous place names, including street and marine highway signs.
“Alaska Native languages are a resource we must work to protect,” Lt. Governor Mallott said. “Developed over thousands of years lived in concert with the land, they carry knowledge about our homes, our cultures, and our ways of life that can’t be communicated any other way. I want to thank the Alaska Legislature for stepping forward earlier this year and supporting the foundational issue of Native language revitalization by passing HCR 19.”
To facilitate better collaboration between state government and Alaska Native Tribes and communities, the order also asks each of Alaska’s agencies to work to develop a plan for meaningful government-to-government consultation with tribes, and participate in the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) endeavor led by First Alaskans. The commissioner of each department will designate a tribal liaison to help develop and implement those plans.
The order follows the 2018 ANLPAC Biennial Report, which recognized a linguistic emergency for Alaska’s twenty native languages. Since then, Alaska’s Legislature and the Walker-Mallott administration have taken action to recognize the emergency and offer support for language revitalization.