On Tuesday, Dec. 17, the President of the United Nations General Assembly convened a High-Level Event to close the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages in New York City.
The event was co-organized by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), along with the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Member States and others, to assess progress made during the year and review existing challenges – sharing key lessons learned about the preservation, promotion and revitalization of Indigenous languages.
University of Montana Environmental Studies associate professor Rosalyn LaPier (Blackfeet/Métis) was invited to serve as a representative from an Indigenous Peoples Organization for her work with Saokio Heritage and National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs.
Despite U.N. efforts throughout this International Year of Indigenous Languages to highlight the daily disappearance of mother tongues across the world, the President of the General Assembly warned on Tuesday that “challenges persist nonetheless”.
“Every fortnight, at least one indigenous language vanishes from the face of the earth,” spelled out President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande. “This translates into two extinct indigenous languages each month.”
As the International Year of Indigenous Languages came to an end, the United Nations declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages, to begin in 2022.
The resolution was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 18 “to draw attention to the critical loss of Indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize, and promote Indigenous language” and to “take urgent steps at the national and international levels.”