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Tue, Nov 09



Sustaining and Revitalizing Native American Languages

Amplifying authentic voices to advance advocacy for Native American languages

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Sustaining and Revitalizing Native American Languages
Sustaining and Revitalizing Native American Languages

Time & Location

Nov 09, 2021, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST



About the event

While Congress has funded resource centers and programs to improve the nation’s capacity to teach and learn world languages, such initiatives have often failed to include and address the specific status and needs of indigenous, Native American languages. Panelists will consider promises and progress made to Native American language communities, gaps remaining, and partnerships and pathways forward to fulfill pledges to strengthen indigenous language preservation and revitalization efforts.




President, National Coalition of Native American Language Schools & Programs 

Leslie Harper, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Born and raised in Cass Lake, MN, Leslie has been a language advocate and public policy researcher for 20+ years. Leslie is co-founder of an Ojibwe language immersion school and helped with teaching, curriculum development, professional development, and fundraising for ten years at the school.

She learned to speak Ojibwe as an adult, and reached an Intermediate level of proficiency (so far) and knows that she will be a lifelong learner of her own people’s language. Leslie is President of the National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs, which advocates to uphold civil rights for education sites that provide education primarily through a Native American language.


Cultural Content Trainer, Choctaw Tribal Language Program, Department of Chahta Immi

Jason Lewis is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma born and raised in California. In 2009 he dis-removed himself from the ancestral homelands of the Choctaw to learn the Choctaw language. In return he has helped write grants for the Mississippi Choctaw Language Program, with outcomes leading to daily Choctaw language classes in the Mississippi Choctaw school system. Currently, he is helping conduct Choctaw language interviews for an NEH Documenting Endangered Languages grant to create a modern Mississippi Choctaw dictionary. Jason lives in the Pearl River community of Choctaw, Mississippi with his partner and daughter.


President, Blackfeet Community College 

Karla Bird is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet nation. Her area of expertise is in Higher Education, with the specific intent of serving within a leadership capacity at the Blackfeet Community College. Her doctoral dissertation was on educational persistence among American Indian students attending post secondary education. The intent of this research was to use an Indigenous research orientation to view students as sources of strength and resiliency, with tools and assets that help them persist and reach success in academe. Success for Indigenous students involves the ability to maintain their own cultural identity while also meeting high academic standards, in order to make a valuable contribution to society.


Interim Director, Northwest Indian Language Institute, University of Oregon

Robert has been a language educator for over 20 years. Since 2008 he has worked with Native American languages at the University of Oregon's (UO) Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI), collaborating with teachers of indigenous languages from the region, nationally and internationally. His areas of specialization include teacher education, computer assisted language learning, and online education. He is the interim director of NILI as well as the Yamada Language Center at the UO. Robert is a Diné descendant.


  • FREE Registration

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  • Donation & Registration

    Our Continuing Conversations Virtual Panel Series celebrates 40 years of JNCL-NCLIS advocacy. Your generous donation helps ensure the next 40 years of language advocacy.

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