Native Language Immersion Initiative
October 6, 2022
Language is a vital asset for Native people and communities. It defines who we are, where we come from, and the value systems that in many ways cannot be translated into English.
Language is a core part of who we are as Indian people.
Each of us has our respective languages that connect us to our place of birth,
teach us how to pray, and show us who we are as Indian people. Language is sacred.
– Benny Shendo, Jr., First Nations Board Chair
To stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures, First Nations launched the Native Language Immersion Initiative in 2017 to support new generations of Native American language speakers, and help Native communities establish infrastructure and models for Native language immersion programs that may be replicated throughout Indian Country.
The Initiative originally launched as a three-year investment with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provided a $2.1 million challenge grant that First Nations matched thanks to generous support from multiple foundations and many individual donors across the United States. The Initiative has extended beyond the initial investment thanks to ongoing support from individual contributions.