Esther Martinez was a woman who dedicated her life to preserving the Tewa language. Like so many other Native American children in government boarding schools, she was punished for talking the way she did at home. Undefeated, as an adult she took on the roles of teacher, storyteller, and linguist who ensured the survival of Tewa cultural, including its spoken word. After her passing at age 93, Congress passed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act that offers grants for language immersion and community language programs. Featured below are two opportunities for the preservation of Native American languages: the current round of funding for The Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance Esther Martinez Immersion program, as well as a private grant from the First Nation's Development Institute.
The Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance: Ester Martinez Immersion
The purpose of this program from the Administration for Children & Families is to support efforts to ensure the survival and vitality of Native American languages. It will support locally determined projects that have relevant, measurable goals to reduce or solve community problems. Areas of interest include:
- Native American language restoration programs that provide language instruction, teacher training programs, and instructional materials that work toward increasing proficiency in that language.
- Bring together younger and older people together so that youth can benefit from the language skills of older generations.
- Train Native Americans to teach others or serve as translators or interpreters.
- Develop and disseminate materials to be used in instruction.
- Provide training to produce a television or radio show in a Native language.
- Transcribe and analyze oral testimony for the purpose of preservation.
- Develop language learning apps and other educational technology.
Applying for the Program
First Nation's Development Institute Native Language Immersion Initiative
This program supports Native language immersion and cultural retention programs. Funding may be used for curriculum development, technology, instructional courses and materials, teacher training, and related organizational infrastructure.