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Cost of Erasing Languages?

In the news.....

A recent article by Rebecca Nagle appearing in High Post News discusses how "[t]he U.S. has spent more money erasing Native languages than saving them" and asks "[a]s tribes fight to save their languages from extinction, has the government done enough?" The news article discusses Cherokee language and some of the budgets and capacity for their language programs, but emphasizes how, despite healthy budgets for language revitalization, the "tribe is losing fluent speakers at a rate more than 10 times higher than it produces second language learners.

On a federal level, funding for language revitalization is a "pittance" to "how much the United States spent on exterminating Native languages". According to the article, $2.81 billion was spent between 1877 and 1918 on the boarding school infrastructure, which was a system of assimilation targeted Indigenous culture and language for destruction. However, the federal government spent a mere $180 million for Indigenous Language Revitalization since 2005. The article makes the emphatic point that "for every dollar the U.S. government spent on eradicating Native languages, it has spent 7 cents on revitalizing them".

The article raises an important issue on government accountable, reconciliation and decolonization in terms of just relations and making amends. Funding for language revitalization is in short supply as is capacity building for communities to not only establish strong revitalization programs, but also programs that are function to teach the language in keeping with the cultural modalities and methods of each communities preference.

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