To 'Support Its First People,' Alaska to Use Native Languages on Public Signs

The order calls for indigenous place names to be shown on public signs and directs the state's Department of Education to work with several groups to promote the indigenous languages in public schools and universities.

By Michael Burke

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) has signed an order declaring an emergency for native languages in the state, saying that the government must support the "revitalization" of 20 native languages.

The order calls for indigenous place names to be shown on public signs and directs the state's Department of Education to work with several groups to promote the indigenous languages in public schools and universities.

Walker said in a statement announcing the order earlier this week that Alaska is looking to "support its first people and their languages."

“This order focuses on concrete ways Alaska can show leadership to support its first people and their languages — one of our richest and most at-risk resources," he said. “It’s our responsibility to acknowledge government’s historical role in the suppression of indigenous languages, and our honor to move into a new era by supporting their revitalization.”

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