Tony Reed
The Del Norte Triplicate

The Yurok Tribe will use a grant of $400,000 for educational programs designed to teach them their native language and prepare them to teach it to others. According to a release from the Health and Human Services Agency’s Administration for Children and Families, the funds will be used to support site-based educational programs to demonstrate evidence based strategies that integrate Native language and educational services within a specific community.

“The funding will not only be used to help teach students their Native language but to eventually instruct other academic topics in their Native language,” said Monique Richards, public affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “However, NLCC funding can be used for more than direct Native language instruction. It can aid in certifying Native language instructors and teachers, creating education materials in Native languages covering numerous school topics, etc. and developing a community-wide strategy.”

The Yurok Tribe of Klamath will use the money to implement instructions in colleges while also expanding to additional elementary schools. The grant will also allow the development of a Yurok Language Training Credentials program.

Richards said for the individual student, this means they will not have gaps in their education and can be fully immersed in their Native language. There is a growing evidence that such efforts contribute to Native youth resiliency, educational success and well-being, she said.

“The problem facing many Native communities currently attempting to teach Native youth their language is that efforts are not collective or all housed together with overarching strategies and interrelated curricula. A community might have an early immersion program within Head Start and a high school that offers basic Native language courses, but these two institutions may not be integrated to promote a seamless continuum of Native language instruction,” said Richards. “NLCC funding is meant to help Native American communities close the Native language learning gaps so that all levels of education in the community offer instruction in Native languages.”

“I’ve visited several of our Native communities and found many have components of Native language programs for students, but they often lack the time and resources to fully implement programs,” said Lillian Sparks Robinson, commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans. “This funding will help the Yurok Tribe develop comprehensive Native language courses that will be continued through the student’s life and ensure language preservation for native speakers.”

Awarded by the Administration for Native Americans, at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, grants will support the tribes to integrate stand-alone language programs into a broader educational system of Native language instruction from preschool through postsecondary education.

“The Yurok Tribe is one of five grantees in the cohort of cooperative agreements funded for five years to firmly establish a coordinated, comprehensive Native language education program from preschool to postsecondary education,” said Richards. “These cooperative agreements are also part of a demonstration project that will develop models, approaches, and strategies that can be replicated and add to the evidence- and practice-base.”

Reach Tony Reed at treed@triplicate.com

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