Public testimony will continue Thursday on Alaska Native language endangerment.
On Tuesday, the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee heard from District 36 Representative Dan Ortiz on his proposed House Concurrent Resolution 19. The resolution urges Governor Bill Walker to "issue an Administrative order recognizing a linguistic emergency,” for the 20 recognized Alaska Native Languages.
First Alaskans Institute President Liz Medicine Crow was among those who testified Tuesday morning. Medicine Crow, who is Haida and Tlingit, said that HCR 19 unites the Governor’s office, the legislature, the Alaska Native community, and all Alaskans in an effort to prevent a “human rights catastrophe.”
“If that present and emergency situation isn’t addressed, we are on the verge of losing the essence of our humanity and the soul of what Alaska can and should be,” said Medicine Crow.
Over 20 people testified about the importance of legislative action on this issue, including members of Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council, tribal representatives, and tribal members.
The committee meeting ran about a half hour over time, with more people waiting to be heard. Public testimony on the resolution will resume on Thursday, March 8 at 8 a.m.