United States

We the people

Ogunwole, S.U. (2006, February). We the people: American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States (CENSR-28) (PDF file). This is a special report of the Census Bureau that presents a summary of the Census 2000 data gathered on Native Americans. The document includes analysis of trends and official statistics on the numbers of speakers of indigenous languages in addition to the other demographic data.


U.S. Census Bureau. (2003, December). Census of population and housing: Characteristics of American Indians and Alaska Natives by tribe and language: 2000 (PHC-5). This document runs to over 700 pages and presents complete data tables for statistics gathered in the 2000 Census for Native American peoples. Table 1 of the document lists the number of speakers of native languages, which is an essential indicator of the state of a language. Language is also included as a variable elsewhere in the document.

Native language preservation 

The Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children and Families: Administration for Native Americans sponsors a native language preservation program. The agency produces Native language preservation: A language guide for establishing archives and repositories, which is an extensive resource for the practical steps involved in language preservation. Moreover, the document outlines the need for language preservation in the United States and discusses related government policies. Unfortunately, however, the guide must be purchased from the website, although the table of contents can be viewed online.

US Government

Much of the information about endangered native languages in the United States is produced by universities, non-profit organizations, and individual communities or peoples. However, many government agencies appear to recognize that linguistic information is within the purview of the resources they should provide. To this end, several governmental websites provide lists of links to pertinent information related to native language issues, for example:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Indian Health Service

New York State Library  

National Museum of the American Indian

Written testimony of Henrietta Gomez

Gomez, H. (2003, September 25). Written testimony of Henrietta Gomez, Taos Pueblo Head Start Program, Tiwa culture specialist and language instructor, before the Senate committee on Indian Affairs on the reauthorization of the Head Start Act and on Native American Indian language and culture (PDF file). This document is a fairly specific statement regarding a government program for language preservation. However, the research and arguments outlined are applicable to the larger issues of language endangerment in the United States.

  NSF          National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities are agencies that provide support to language preservation initiatives in the United States. The documents linked here are news releases regarding the Documenting Endangered Languages program. The results of the sponsored research can then be accessed from the organizations that received the grants.

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