Current Projects

Native Language Immersion Initiative 2023

Native Language Immersion Initiative

First Nations began the sixth year of the Native Language Immersion Initiative with the awarding of grants to 10 Native-led organizations and Tribes to help bolster language immersion programs working to preserve Indigenous languages and cultures throughout the U.S.

Since its launch in 2017, the Initiative has made a notable impact throughout Indian Country―awarding 62 grants totaling over $5 million to grow and strengthen 39 Native language immersion programs.

In this latest grant cycle, First Nations awarded 10 grants to build the capacity of Native-controlled nonprofit organizations and tribal government programs actively supporting Native language immersion programs.

The new grant cycle is made possible through funding from the NoVo Foundation, as well as from Sunderland Foundation, which recently awarded First Nations a three-year $1.5 million general operating grant in support of First Nations’ programs and projects.

2023 Grantees

ANC Childcare and Education Center, DBA Life’s Language Lodge, Hayes, Montana: $75,000

This project aims to translate traditional stories captured in English back to the Aaniih and Nakoda languages and transcribe oral stories into standardized orthography with the goal of developing materials for increasing language literacy. The project will help Aaniiih and Nakoda People retain their traditional stories in their own voices and control the narrative of their stories.

Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma: $75,000

Through this project, Cherokee Nation will create a dedicated staff position to develop a Language Arts curricula and workbooks for seventh and eighth grade students at Cherokee Immersion Charter School to improve reading literacy and better prepare students for state standardized testing.

Euchee Yuchi Language Project, Inc., Sapulpa, Oklahoma: $75,000

This project represents the critical next step in the process of Yuchi language revitalization. The project will support early childhood and adult learners, curricula development, and language instructor certification to create new mother-tongue speakers of Yuchi by reconnecting to the land using nature-based education.

 

Fond Du Lac Tribal College, Cloquet, Minnesota: $75,000

Through the Strengthening Grandma’s House project, the Fond du Lac Tribal College will create a full-time position for a licensed Ojibwe-speaking teacher to increase educational success, use space more effectively, expand participation capacity, augment curriculum, and obtain licensing to leverage additional educational and financial resources.

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, Juneau, Alaska: $50,000

This project will increase the capacity of the foundation by creating Lingit Yoo X’atángi curriculum and resources for preschool to fifth-grade students, along with monthly opportunities for intergenerational language transmission.

 

Hualapai Tribe, Peach Springs, Arizona: $50,000

This project will sustain a language immersion program in which fluent Hualapai language consultants conduct language immersion programming in each of the four head-start classrooms for the regular school year, continuing successes gained over the last three years.

Keres Children’s Learning Center, Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico: $75,000

KCLC will increase its class capacities by supporting teachers to be more consistent in their use of best language, immersion, and Montessori practices to better nurture and revitalize the Keres language culture and traditions.

Salish School of Spokane, Spokane, Washington: $75,000

The school will lead a project to increase overall community Salish language capacity by expanding a program to train 30 adult speakers of Colville Salish who have strong relationships with the community. These new speakers will be teachers, mentors, advocates, and role models for intergenerational learning and transmission of the critically endangered language.

Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, Anza, California: $50,000

With this support, the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians will utilize and expand its language curriculum to teach 5- to 12-year old children the Cahuilla language at an existing afterschool program. This will ensure the Cahuilla language is retained.

Sicangu Community Development Corporation, Mission, South Dakota: $75,000

The Cultivating Lakota Language Immersion at Wakanyeja Tokeyahci project will strengthen the capacity and operations of Wakanyeja Tokeyahci through curriculum development and improvement and opportunities for teachers and youth. This will create a deeper, richer Lakota language immersion school that will uplift and empower the next generations of Sicangu Lakota.

Growing the Cahuilla Language One Fluent Speaker at a Time, September 2023

The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians launched the Cahuilla Language Program in 2019, with fluent adult speakers mentoring future adult teachers online once a week. A preschool curriculum was also developed at that time. First Nations helped grow the program with a $50,000 grant.