2020 is Year of the Indigenous Languages; Feb. 24 is CNMI Chamorro-Carolinian Mother Language Day

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LIEUTENANT Gov. Arnold I. Palacios on Monday signed a proclamation designating 2020 as the Year of Indigenous Languages and Feb. 24 as CNMI Chamorro-Carolinian Mother Language Day.

The CNMI also joins other states in celebrating International Language Day, according to Chamorro-Carolinian Languages Policy Commission executive director Melvin Faisao.

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, center, seated foreground, poses with lawmakers, other government officials and advocates after signing the proclamation for the Year of Indigenous Language and the CNMI Chamorro-Carolinian Mother Language Day at the multi-purpose center on Monday.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

“Languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person’s unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory,” he added. “But despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate.”

He said the proclamation provides three important target areas that the commission will add to its action plan to ensure the continuity and preservation of Chamorro and Carolinian language:

• Support the commission’s collaboration with Northern Marianas College and the private sector. This includes the creation of more materials and content as well as a wider range of services using language, information, and communications technology.

• Collaborate with the Public School System in preserving indigenous languages, creating access to education, information, and knowledge in and about indigenous languages for indigenous children, young people and adults while improving data collection and sharing of information.

• Collaborate with the Historic Preservation Office, the Arts Council, and non-government organizations in “mainstreaming the knowledge areas and values of indigenous people and cultures within broader sociocultural, economic and political domains,” and these include “cultural practices such as traditional sports, fishing and farming, and games.”

Lt. Governor Palacios, for his part, reminded that it is everyone’s responsibility to preserve the native languages.

Acting Education Commissioner Jackie Quitugua, in her remarks, said parents are also responsible for teaching the local languages to their children.

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