The Crow Language Consortium, a collective of Crow schools, colleges and educators working to preserve Apsáalooke (the Crow language), received $10,000 to assist with general operating costs.
Michael Joseph, the consortium’s public relations coordinator, said the funding will support interns, language digitization and an ongoing effort to build the most extensive Crow dictionary, which will be offered in print and online.
During the 1800s and 1900s, Native American children were separated from their families and forced to attend boarding schools, where they were punished for speaking Indigenous languages. As a result, the Crow language is considered endangered, and the number of tribal members fluent in Crow has decreased from 85% to 30% in the last 60 years, according to a 2020 Montana Budget and Policy Center report.
As fewer people engage with the language, critical pieces of Crow history, culture and tradition are lost.
The $10,000 was awarded to the consortium through a humanities grant supported by the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress in March. Joseph said government support is significant when it comes to Indigenous language preservation.
“The federal government put a lot of money into tearing away at Indigenous culture in the U.S. over a long period of time. So anytime the government moves to support these languages that were essentially removed by the government is just and more than deserved,” Joseph said. “It’s needed to reawaken these languages, some of which are dormant and sleeping and some are endangered and risk extinction.”
Learn more about the Crow Language Consortium at crowlanguage.org.
This article contains a correction regarding the size of the grant funds.