Vice Chairman Murkowski Votes to Advance Native Language Bills

This week, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), voted to advance two bills, S. 989, the Native American Language Resource Center Act of 2021, and S. 1402, the Durbin Feeling Native American Languages Act of 2021, a bill which she cosponsored, through the Committee.

“When the Committee held a hearing in May on these bills, we heard that there is an effort that we all want to continue—preserving and revitalizing Native languages as they are critical to sustaining Native culture and philosophy. In Alaska, of the more than 20 Alaska Native languages, only one can be considered stable, two of them are no longer spoken, and over half of them have fewer than 20 remaining speakers. I look forward to working with Chairman Schatz, and the rest of the Committee, to get both of these bills enacted into law.” said Vice Chairman Murkowski on the need to pass both bills. 

Click here to watch the Vice Chairman’s full opening statement.

Senator Murkowski SCIA USPS Raven Stamp

Senator Murkowski describing the Raven Story USPS Forever Stamp during SCIA business meeting on August 4, 2021

“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ways that Indigenous peoples are using language and culture to continue making extraordinary contributions to our Nation. One recent example is the recent issue of the Raven Story Forever Stamp. Last Friday, the US Postal Service issued the first stamp designed by a Tlingit artist at a ceremony featuring dancers telling a version of the Raven story. The stamp, designed by Rico Worl, who is Tlingit and Athabascan, depicts one of the significant figures for the Northwest Coast Indigenous people of the Raven setting free the sun, moon, and stars. This is a great reminder of the power of Native culture today, across the Nation,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski on the importance of the issuance of the USPS Raven Story Forever Stamp.

Click here to watch the Vice Chairman’s remarks on the stamp.

S. 989 is cosponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Tina Smith (D-MN), and S. 1402 is cosponsored by Senators Schatz and Murkowski. Both bills will now move to the full Senate for further consideration. 

Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska