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United States of America legislation concerning minority languages

Recognition of Indian Entitites

Indian Tribes and Tribal governments, that are officially recognized by the U.S.A. are listed here on the U.S.A. government website.

“The U.S. government officially recognizes more than 500 Indian tribes in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These federally recognized tribes are eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, either directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts.”1)

The Native American Languages Act of 1990

In this Public Law 101-477, the USA declares to:

  1. preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages;
  2. allow exceptions to teacher certification requirements for Federal programs, and programs funded in whole or in part by the Federal Government, for instruction in Native American languages when such teacher certification requirements hinder the employment of qualified teachers who teach in Native American languages, and to encourage State and territorial governments to make similar exceptions;
  3. encourage and support the use of Native American languages as a medium of instruction in order to encourage and support: (A) Native American language survival; (B) educational opportunity; (C) increased student success and performance; (D) increased student awareness and knowledge of their culture and history; (E) increased student and community pride;
  4. encourage State and local education programs to work with Native American parents, educators, Indian tribes, and other Native American governing bodies in the implementation of programs to put this policy into effect;
  5. recognize the right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies to use the Native American languages as a medium of instruction in all schools funded by the Secretary of the Interior;
  6. ully recognize the inherent right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies, States, territories, and possessions of the United States to take action on, and give official status to, their Native American languages for the purpose of conducting their own business;
  7. support the granting of comparable proficiency achieved through course work in a Native American language the same academic credit as comparable proficiency achieved through course work in a foreign language, with recognition of such Native American language proficiency by institutions of higher education as fulfilling foreign language entrance or degree requirements;
  8. encourage all institutions of elementary, secondary and higher education, where appropriate, to include Native American languages in the curriculum in the same manner as foreign languages and to grant proficiency in Native American languages the same full academic credit as proficiency in foreign languages.

State recognition of indigenous languages


The state of Alaska has recognised 20 Alaska Native Languages as official languages with the passing of House Bill 216 in 2014: “An Act adding the Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup'ik, Alutiiq, Unangax, Dena'ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, Gwich'in, Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän, Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian languages as official languages of the state.”2)3)


In 1978, the state of Hawaii recognised Hawaiian as second official language alongside English in the Hawaiian Constitution of 1978, Article XV, section four.

Legislation concerning education

An overview of all acts concerning Indian Affairs can be found in Chapter 25 of the United States Code.

Regulation of Indian Education

The Bureau of Indian Education oversees the quality of Indian education in the U.S.A: “BIE’s mission is to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe’s needs for cultural and economic well-being, in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities. Further, the BIE is to manifest consideration of the whole person by taking into account the spiritual, mental, physical, and cultural aspects of the individual within his or her family and tribal or village context.”(Website Bureau of Indian Education. Retrieved from

“Currently, the Bureau of Indian Education oversees a total of 183 elementary, secondary, residential and peripheral dormitories across 23 states. 130 schools are tribally controlled under P.L. 93-638 Indian Self Determination Contracts or P.L. 100-297 Tribally Controlled Grant Schools Act. 53 schools are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. The Bureau of Indian Education also oversees two (2) post-secondary schools” 4).

Modified: 24-02-2020
Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and Resources for Native Americans. Retrieved from
Smith, M. 20 Alaska Native Languages Now Official State Languages. (2014, October 23). Alaska Public Media. Retrieved March 03, 2020 from
Kelly, C.) Alaska becomes the second state to officially recognize indigenous languages. (2014, April 21). KTOO. Retrieved March 03, 2020 from
Website Bureau of Indian Education. Retrieved from
general_information/usa_legislation.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/17 10:54 by ydwine

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