Foundation for Endangered Languages

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4. Appeals, News and Views from Endangered Communities

Strategy to Revitalize First Nation, Inuit and Métis Languages

Dear friends of Language Revitalization

I and my fellow Task Force members have just completed a comprehensive report to the Canadian government as requested laying our a comprehensive basis for a long term strategy for enhancing our 60-70 endangered languages in canada You can view, download or order copies for free by going to

and scrolling down to Foundational Report.

Please pass on the info. We need to insure Canada implements the recommendations . You help is needed.

Thank you chair, Task Force on Language And Culture Ronald Ignace

What is happening in Hospitalito Santiago Atitlán?

Friends and colleagues: We believe those who study people of the past also have obligations to people in the present. The ancient Maya have fascinated archaeologists and the public for generations, but living Maya descendants, often ignored in the shadow of their storied ancestors, now face a disaster of immense proportions. You can see what is happening in Hospitalito Santiago Atitlán, the latest video feature on our nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel (

As keepers of what they believe is the very navel of the world, people in the highland Guatemalan town of Santiago Atitlán hold the cosmos itself in balance by performing rituals (see TAC video Balancing the Cosmos [] echoing the ancient traditions of their prehispanic Mayan ancestors. Closed by civil war, the town's hospital, or "Hospitalito," reopened after 15 years with great hopes in April 2005. On October 5, 2005, tropical storm Stan sent a six foot wall of mud that struck the Hospitalito and buried alive 1400 town residents. This video documents the disaster, the recovery effort and the ongoing plea for help.

This and other programs are available on TAC for your use and enjoyment. We urge you to support this public service by participating in our Membership and Underwriting programs. Only with your help can we continue and enhance this nonprofit public-education and visitor-supported service. We also welcome new content partners as we reach out to the world community.

Richard M. Pettigrew, Ph.D., RPA, President and Executive Director, Archaeological Legacy Institute

Drop the language bill!

We should have pride in our country and in the things that make us Americans, including our common language. But America has never been a country in which only English has been spoken, so it's with regret that the Senate passed a bill earlier this month proclaiming English the national language.

The Senate measure, which was approved 63 to 34, wants to "preserve and enhance" the role of English by restricting federal communications or services to English without altering current laws that require some documents and services in other languages.

We don't need a language law, though, for a few good reasons.

For one, English is the predominant language in the United States, and nothing in more than 200 years of nationhood has threatened its unofficial status. Up until the 1980s, few even thought about the need for a national language declaration.

The proposal, if it becomes law, also is an affront to this country's diversity.

Many Native Americans still speak their native languages. They are proud of their languages, as they should be, and it doesn't make someone less of an American if they do not speak English.

But the simple fact of the matter is that most people naturally will assimilate and lose their native language, and if not them, their children. Again, that's something that has been happening throughout our history and is happening right now at a rate greater than ever.

But English-only supporters raise unfounded fears that somehow things are different today and English will be squeezed out of existence. It won't, even given the diverse world we live in. Just because the merchandise signs at Lowe's are in English and Spanish and product assembly instructions are printed in four or five languages, it does not mean suddenly the Senate will become bilingual.

And lastly, opponents to the national language bill are correct - if made law, the Senate's bill could eventually negate executive orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual ordinances not officially sanctioned by acts of Congress.

We are and have been a big country, big enough to accommodate many people with many ideas and languages. Their presence doesn't affect the status of English - it never has - but the Senate's national language bill does make us look small-minded. Originally published May 31, 2006