The First Nations Development Institute in Longmont, Colorado, has announced grants totalling nearly $1 million in support of efforts to stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures through Native language immersion programs.
Through its Native Language Immersion Initiative, the organization awarded grants of $90,000 to nine Native-led organizations and tribes working to preserve and revitalize language in their communities. Recipients include Ke Kula ‘O Pi’ilani (Wailuku, Hawai’i), which will use the grant to provide tutoring and language-related resources, conduct professional development training and workshops focused on the production of traditional food-making implements, and provide classes designed to increase language and cultural fluency; Pueblo of Sandia (Bernalillo, New Mexico), which will use its grant to provide Tiwa language instruction to children and adults and develop electronic resources and handmade materials; and Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (Porcupine, South Dakota), which will create a Lakȟóta Montessori-themed preschool curriculum, launch an “Unci Stories” mobile application, and redesign and rebrand its “Montessori through Adult” curriculum.
Launched as a three-year project in 2017, the initiative has been extended for a fourth year with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kalliopeia Foundation, NoVo Foundation, Wells Fargo, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and individual donors.
“The number of grant applications First Nations receives every year for language programs is a testament to the importance of cultivating and preserving Native languages,” said First Nations president and CEO Michael Roberts. “People recognize that Native language is critical not just for passing down knowledge, but for fostering pride and culture, which is the foundation of Native resilience and success.”