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ATALM to Partner with United Nations on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

CONTACT: Susan Feller, President and CEO
Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums
405-401-8293 Website:
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Tribal Association Partners with the United Nations in Launching and Supporting the
2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

[Oklahoma City, Jan.28, 2019] The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) today announced its endorsement and partnership with the United Nation’s declaration of the "2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages" (IYIL2019) launched on January 28 in Paris, France. This Declaration calls for worldwide attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to take action to preserve them and the rich cultural diversities embedded therein. ATALM joins indigenous peoples, tribal governments, foundations and funding institutions, academia, United Nations agencies, language organizations, government agencies, and the public/private sector to further the shared goals of preserving, revitalizing, and promoting indigenous languages.

These goals align with ATALM’s mission to help tribes transmit the intellectual and cultural knowledge found in tribal libraries, museums, and archives. As a partner in the IYIL2019 initiative, ATALM has committed to collecting data on how tribal cultural institutions currently support language initiatives, develop case studies on successful initiatives, strengthen the visibility and impact of language programs, increase financial support for cultural institutions supporting indigenous language programs, and provide professional development training in support of improving the effectiveness of language initiatives.

“Through our ongoing communications and nationwide studies representing USA-based tribes, we have learned the importance of cultural institutions to ensuring the vitality of indigenous languages. We are alarmed that there are only an estimated 150 indigenous languages remaining in the United States. As the only national association serving the needs of diverse indigenous cultural institutions, we look forward to working with the United Nations to help reverse this tragic course of indigenous language extinction,” said Walter Echo-Hawk, Chairman of the ATALM Board of Governors.

Demonstrating this commitment, ATALM is announcing the conference theme and professional program focus for its 2019 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums as “Navigating Cultural Survival in the 21st Century” in support of strengthening indigenous language revitalization initiatives. The conference is scheduled for October 8-10 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. More information is available at


About the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums: ATALM is an international non-profit organization that maintains a network of support for indigenous programs, provides culturally relevant programming and services, encourages collaboration among tribal and non-tribal cultural institutions, and articulates contemporary issues related to developing and sustaining the cultural sovereignty of Native Nations. ATALM is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency.

About the IYIL2019: The International Year is both an important mechanism for international cooperation and a year-long celebration, dedicated to promoting an area of international interest or concern. Through the mobilization of different actors, the International Year serves to raise awareness of relevant issues and encourage joint actions around the world. In 2019, the focus of the International Year (hereafter the IYIL2019) is on Indigenous Languages, with UNESCO serving as the UN lead organization. The IYIL2019 aims to draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote, and take further urgent steps at the national and international levels.