First Nations Development Institute
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced 13 new grantees under the second year of its three-year Native Language Immersion Initiative (NLII). First Nations launched the initiative in late 2017 as a three-year project to help stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures through community-based programs that support new generations of Native American language speakers.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provided a $2.1 million challenge grant, which First Nations was required to match with $700,000 of additional funding each year over the three-year period. In the first year (2018), the match was met through the support of Kalliopeia Foundation, Lannan Foundation and NoVo Foundation. In the second year (2019), these three foundations returned to generously underwrite the match again, plus First Nations raised the final $100,000 for the second year from individual donors across the U.S.
The United Nations recently declared 2019 The International Year of Indigenous Languages to increase awareness and appreciation of Indigenous languages and their contributions to the world’s rich cultural diversity. There are currently about 150 Native languages spoken in the U.S., many of them spoken only by a small number of elders. Native communities are at a critical juncture when it comes to the retention and perpetuation of their languages, and some suggest that without targeted language preservation and restoration efforts, there may only be 20 Native languages spoken by 2050.
The following 13 grantees were awarded up to $90,000 each in funding to build the capacity of and directly support their Native language-immersion and/or culture-retention program:
- Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, Chickaloon, Alaska, $90,000 – This project will expand upon current efforts to revitalize the Ahtna language at the Ya Ne Dah Ah or “Ancient Teachings” Tribal School. With this grant, the tribe will create a new culture and language curriculum to meet Alaska’s requirements in the areas of history, science, and social studies.
- Euchee Yuchi Language Project, Inc., Sapulpa, Oklahoma, $90,000 – The project will restore the vitality of the Yuchi language through The Yuchi House, a year-round language-immersion program for students grades K-12. Additionally, this grant will be used to produce an archive of Yuchi language videos and assist with tribal language instructor certification.
- Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School, Rooseveltown, New York, $89,320 – This teacher training program will increase the capacity of current and new teachers of the K’anienkeha (Mohawk) language. Master language educators will develop a training program for 10 new elementary school teachers and teacher aides that focuses on the Akwesasne Freedom School's unique language curriculum.
- Keres Children’s Learning Center, Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, $90,000 – This project will provide expansive professional development to nine teachers through one-on-one and group training sessions on language acquisition, language immersion, cultural knowledge, and advocacy. Additionally, this funding will be used to purchase supplies and other materials for elementary classrooms that have recently doubled in size.
- Nisqually Indian Tribe, Olympia, Washington, $70,836 – This project will help preserve and promote tribal traditions through the development of a Nisqually Lushootseed-specific language curriculum. With this grant, the tribe will develop and publish 200 new resources, including Lushootseed alphabet and language books. Additionally, the tribe will train up to four more Lushootseed language teachers and create a Lushootseed font application.
- Northern Arapaho Tribe, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, $90,000 – This project will support the development of a master-apprentice language program to educate and empower Northern Arapaho tribal members. Tribal elders will develop Arapaho language curriculum (i.e., Arapaho words, phrases, stories, history, and conversational pieces) that they will share with prospective Arapaho language teachers who will, in turn, share that knowledge with students.
- Oneida Nation, Oneida, Wisconsin, $89,954 – This project will increase the number of proficient first-language speakers within the Oneida community by creating an immersion-only classroom that utilizes the current On^yote’aka Tsi Nitwaw^not^ and Head Start “As it Happens” curriculum. Twenty students will participate in this language program. Their parents are also required to attend bi-monthly classes and pass a basic assessment to foster an at-home language environment for their children.
- Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, $90,000 – This project will build the organizational and professional capacity of the Yaqui Language Immersion Program. Eleven teachers will engage in the study and practicum for their professional development as language instructors.
- Salish School of Spokane, Spokane, Washington, $90,000 – This project will provide Salish training to four interns recruited and hired from among parents of current students at the Salish School of Spokane. Interns will participate in 60 hours of evening/weekend Salish classes per year, with the goal of eventually hiring them as Salish immersion instructors.
- Standing Rock Community Development Corporation, Fort Yates, South Dakota, $90,000 – The project will utilize the newly created immersion curriculum to pilot educational best practices in the classroom, create an immersion teacher training strategy, increase access to high-quality professional development, and leverage existing staff and resources to transition from a program of Sitting Bull College to a community serving school through the Standing Rock Community Development Corporation.
- Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Porcupine, South Dakota, $90,000 – This project will provide 26 language instructors with professional development training. Additionally, this grant will be used to open a second Lakota Immersion Childcare Center to provide immersion education to 15 more Lakota students.
- Wolakota Waldorf Society, Kyle, South Dakota, $86,174 – This project will utilize new and existing resources to provide language immersion to 50 to 60 children in grades K-8. With this grant, it will set up an outdoor classroom to introduce students to indigenous plants. It will develop a curriculum to teach words and phrases about traditional plants, fruits, tools, and ecology. It will also be used to provide professional development training and encourage parent and community engagement.
- Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, Mashpee, Massachusetts, $90,000 – This project lays the groundwork to expand the Wôpanâak’s language immersion school to the 8th grade. The school currently serves students from pre-K through 4th grade. With this grant, the school will partner with five regional colleges and universities to provide comprehensive state and tribal language teacher certification. This will allow the school to recruit and hire new language teachers.
About First Nations Development Institute
For nearly 39 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States.
For more information about First Nations, visit www.firstnations.org.