From KTOO, here. An excerpt:

The Barnes Committee Room at the Alaska Capitol erupted in cheers Tuesday morning, as a panel of lawmakers unanimously moved a bill that would make 20 Alaska Native languages official state languages.

Dozens of people testified in favor of the measure, House Bill 216.

University of Alaska Southeast Native Languages Professor Lance Twitchell greeted the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee in Tlingit.

While English is the only official language of Alaska, Twitchell said this is not an English-only state.

“For over 10,000 years there have been other languages here, and they are still here today,” Twitchell said.

He described a crisis point in the effort to save Native languages. The average Alaska Native tongue has fewer than 1,000 speakers, the vast majority of whom are over the age of 70. The last fluent speakers of Eyak and Holikachuk Athabascan died within past decade.

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