• Alissa Rutkowski

Senate Passes S.256 Esther Martinez Bill to Preserve Native American Languages

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

Legislative Update


WASHINGTON, DC – On June 27, the United States Senate passed S.256, the “Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act”. The bill was introduced in the Senate at the beginning of the 2019 calendar year by Senator Tom Udall [D-NM], and was advocated for by attendees of JNCL’s Language Advocacy Day 2019 shortly thereafter. The language community celebrates the passage of this bill during the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and as other countries make strides in the same direction.  


Named after a Tewa teacher and storyteller known for her dedication to revitalizing her people’s language, Esther Martinez Native American language grants provide opportunities for tribal communities to assess, plan, develop, and implement projects that ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native languages. This legislation aims to extend and update these grant programs so more Native communities can receive resources to revitalize and maintain their mother tongue. 


Representative Ben Ray Luján [D-NM-3] introduced the House bill equivalent, H.R.912, earlier this year but it has not yet moved through committee. JNCL-NCLIS continues to support and advocate for this legislation. To learn more about the “Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act”,  and how to make your voice heard on Capitol Hill, browse the JNCL resource folder

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