KODIAK — Alaska has 20 officially recognized Native languages and each of them has seen a decline in the number of speakers over the last few decades, according to a recent study.
A report by the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council states, “If current rates of decline were to continue as they have been since the 1970s, all Alaska Native languages may lose their last fluent speakers by the end of the 21st century,” The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
Two of the languages — Eyak and Tsetsa’ut — are considered extinct or dormant with no fluent speakers, according to the report.
The Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council was created by the Legislature in 2012 to oversee research into how to best promote the continued survival of its indigenous languages.
There now are fewer than 10,000 speakers of Central Yup’ik, fewer than 2,500 speakers of Iñupiaq, fewer than 1,000 speakers of St. Lawrence Island Yupik, fewer than 200 speakers of Unangax Aleut, and fewer than 50 speakers of Alutiiq (Sugt’stun), according to the report.
As a result, the council is strongly urging that the governor issue an administrative order, recognizing the situation as a linguistic emergency and clearly stating it is the policy of the state to actively “promote the survival and efflorescence of all of Alaska’s 21 official languages.”
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