Language is the Soul of a Nation

The Indigenous Language Institute

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Photo: © Dan Budnick

The Indigenous Language Institute, founded in 1992, is dedicated to the preservation, revitalization and perpetuation of languages. Its mission “recognizes the imminent loss of indigenous peoples' languages and acknowledges the individuality of indigenous communities. ILI facilitates innovative, for successful community-based initiatives for language revitalization through collaboration with other appropriate groups and organizations, and promotes public awareness of this crisis.”

"Language is the SOUL of a nation."
Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation

It is the cornerstone of culture. Our language enables and empowers us to better comprehend ourselves, our families, our communities, and our histories. But as we enter a new millennium, Native American languages are endangered and dying. There is a silent crisis in Indian communities as elder speakers die, and with them the language of an entire people.

More than half of the 300 indigenous languages that existed when the Europeans first landed in North America have already disappeared, and more than 75 of those were lost in the last century alone. We must work now to ensure the survival of the remaining languages or they will likely vanish altogether in the next hundred years.

The preservation of language is the preservation of culture, by supporting the efforts of The Indigenous Language Institute; we can save these precious links to the past and keys to the future from being lost forever.

ILI's commitment is to assist in creating new language speakers at the grassroots level. The ILI works with Native communities, empowering then to create successful language programs drawing upon their cultural resources. The ILI is the core of a network that fosters communication and builds trust among Native communities, linguists and other organizations committed to the revitalization, preservation and perpetuation of indigenous languages.

The ILI, a non-profit organization, also serves as an umbrella organization for smaller community language programs that need grants, but are not set up to receive them directly. In this way, ILI plays an important role in ensuring that worthy programs across the country get the support they need.

Indigenous Language Institute Programs

How to ensure the seamless transmittal of language and culture - especially the creation of new language speakers - inspires all ILI programs. Since 1992, the ILI has successfully implemented a number of unique programs that have had direct and positive effects on language programs in Native communities across the United States. ILI programs have brought together a diverse community of Native language speakers, teachers, university scholars and linguists, and Native youth dedicated to revitalizing indigenous languages.

The ILI is a national clearinghouse of information and referrals, which includes: a Resource Library, a Native Community Field Survey Project and a Web site.

Education and research offerings include: community language training seminars and scholarly symposia; language materials development; and the Annual Youth Language Fair.

ILI publications include resource directories, "how to" handbooks to aid communities in planning their own language programs and activities, and a semi-annual newsletter.

ILI promotes public awareness of issues pertaining to indigenous language loss and solutions through our newsletter, the Annual Honors Event which recognizes individuals who have contributed to language survival, and a multitude of other public outreach activities.

Endowment Campaign

The ILI has launched a $5 million campaign over the next three years to raise much-needed funds for its endowment. Your gift will be a perpetual source of revenue which will ensure that the ILI continues to provide native communities with the level of excellence that they've come to expect from ILI programs.

Please make a Commitment

There is urgency to the ILI's work because of the extremely fragile condition of indigenous languages. Your support will create a lasting legacy for the survival of Native languages forever.

Contributions to the Endowment will help the ILI realize its dream of establishing a national Native language center equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, a place where Native community language teachers and speakers, scholars, linguists and other can come to learn from one another and share their knowledge and experiences.

To learn more about the Indigenous Language Institute, the Endowment Campaign, and other ways to contribute, please contact:

Inee Yang Slaughter, Executive Director
The Indigenous Language Institute remote
560 Montezuma Ave, Suite 201A
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: 505-820-0311
Fax: 505-820-0316

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Contemporary Expression of
Traditional Native American Art

Collector’s Resources

Santa Fe

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture | 505-476-1250


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