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WASHINGTON — The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted tribes across Indian Country in ways beyond just the physical well-being of tribal citizens. With the loss of life during the pandemic came loss of culture, as well. Several tribal communities lost elders who were fluent speakers of their languages, which put tremendous strain on efforts to keep the Native languages alive.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hear testimony on how the impact Covid-19 has had on tribal languages in a hearing entitled “Examining the Covid-19 Response in Native Communities: Native Languages One Year Later” and to receive testimony on S.989, the Native American Language Resource Center Act of 2021, and S.1402, the Durbin Feeling Native American Languages Act of 2021.

The hearing, led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaiʻi), will be held Wednesday, May 26 at 2:30 p.m. – EDT.

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The Committee will hear from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Native Americans and Native language leaders from Hawaiʻi, Alaska, and Indian Country on Covid impacts to Native communities’ language revitalization efforts, Native language resources in the American Rescue Plan Act, and the two bills on the legislative agenda.

Prior to the oversight and legislative hearing, the committee will hold a business meeting to consider S.1471, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act.

WHAT: Schatz to lead Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight and Legislative Hearing.

WITNESSES:

Ms. Michelle Sauve, Acting Commissioner, Administration for Native Americans, Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Ms. Leslie Harper, President, National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs, Cass Lake, Minnesota

Ms. Kaʻiulani Laehā, Chief Executive Officer, ʻAha Pūnana Leo, Hilo, Hawaii

Ms. Bernadette “Yaayuk” Alvanna-Stimpfle, Director, Kawerak Eskimo Heritage; Chair, Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council, Nome, Alaska

WHEN: Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. HT

HOW TO JOIN: Access the live stream here.

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