August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

UN: Cultural Survival, Saving Native Languages

Ellen Lutz, Executive 617.441.5400 x16

Cultural Survival Takes the Fight to Save Native Languages to the UN

Indigenous Languages Hold Keys to Global Warming Solutions and Preserving Biodiversity; New York, NY

April 22, 2008 – Cultural Survival, a global leader in the fight to protect indigenous languages, lands and cultures around the world, this week takes the fight to save native languages to the United Nations. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based organization will bring issues relating to American Indian/Native Hawaiian language revitalization to an international audience at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The United Nations has declared 2008 the "International Year of Languages" and the leadership of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues recognizes biological, linguistic and cultural diversity as "inseparable and mutually reinforcing – when an indigenous language is lost, so too is traditional knowledge on how to maintain the world's biological diversity and address climate change and other environmental challenges."
This year's Seventh Session is expected to draw indigenous delegates and NGOs from around the world to investigate "Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges." Among them will be Cultural Survival board members Dr. Richard A. Grounds and Ryan Wilson, founder of the National Alliance to Save Native Languages, who will present their efforts to revitalize disappearing Native American languages. "Indigenous languages contain priceless repositories of human knowledge developed over millennia of interconnections to local environments," said Cultural Survival Executive Director Ellen Lutz. "Future generations of all peoples will need to rely on the worldviews contained within Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan, Native American and other indigenous peoples' languages to adequately address threats to the global environment, including climate change and critical reductions in biodiversity. These fragile languages are part of our common human heritage and Cultural Survival is taking urgent action to bolster support to tribal language programs and their speaker communities while there is still time," said Lutz.Cultural Survival's Campaign to Revitalize Native Languages, in partnership with Native Hawaiian and tribal language programs will host a roundtable discussion at the Permanent Forum entitled "American Indian/Native Hawaiian Language Revitalization: BRINGING OUR LANGUAGES HOME AGAIN" from 1:15-2:45 pm at UN Headquarters, 2 UN Plaza - DC2 23rd floor Conference Room, followed at 3:00 pm by the Permanent Forum session on indigenous languages, and Dr. Grounds' presentation as part of a report by an international expert group on indigenous languages. About Cultural Survival: Cultural Survival is a global leader in the fight to protect indigenous lands, languages, and cultures around the world. In partnership with indigenous peoples, we advocate for native communities whose rights, cultures, and dignities threatened. Based in Cambridge, MA, we are a membership organization whose board of directors includes some of the world's preeminent indigenous leaders, as well as lawyers, anthropologists, business leaders, and philanthropists. For additional information visit:

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