The Issue

Unless we act, within the next 100 years, 90% of our world’s 7,000 languages will become extinct. In the United States alone, of the original 400 to 500 languages once spoken from the Pacific to the Atlantic, only about a dozen Native American languages have a chance of surviving beyond 2050. Government aid remains severely limited. The few private foundations tackling language revitalization cannot keep up with demand from so many corners. Very few organizations work to raise funds for and revitalize the endangered languages of the earth. The Language Conservancy stands as one of the few organizations working on the ground to maintain linguistic diversity across the planet. We play a crucial role in our world today.

Providing a Solution

The Language Conservancy supports indigenous languages by helping communities obtain grants and by providing urgently needed technical assistance with the composition and distribution of print and online resources crucial to any language revitalization effort. We also educate the public on the problem of language loss and the importance of nurturing the world’s linguistic diversity. Much work remains before a critical mass of people across the world become aware of the extent of the language crisis and press for solutions to drive away the peril of silenced languages and cultural destruction of indigenous communities.

TLC Board Members

TLC is governed by a six-member Board of eminent indigenous language specialists, both native speakers and linguists. The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall direction and decision-making of the organization. Directors are elected for two-year terms from candidates nominated from within the Board. All of our board members volunteer their time to prevent further language loss.

Ben Black Bear
Ben Black BearBoard Member
Ben is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is the current Director of Indian Studies for the St. Francis Mission. He is the former Executive Director of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Tribal Land Enterprise and Tribal Vice President. As a fluent native speaker of Lakota and early Director of the Lakota Language Department at Siŋté Glešká College, he has been involved with various aspects of the Lakota language teaching for five decades. He has set out to produce language materials to be used to document and teach the Lakota language and after five decades of work he has accomplished what he has intended to do.
Serafín M. Coronel-Molina
Serafín M. Coronel-MolinaBoard Member
Serafín M. Coronel-Molina is an Indigenous scholar and native speaker of Huanca Quechua. He is a sociolinguist, educational linguist, ethnographer, lexicographer, editor, and translator. He held a Named and Endowed Title of Indiana University Bicentennial Professor (2019-2021), and he is currently a Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education in the School of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Indiana University-Bloomington.
Michael Fitzgerald
Michael FitzgeraldBoard Member
Michael Fitzgerald (b. 1949) is an author of more than 20 books that have received more than 45 awards. All royalties go to support indigenous cultures. He is the adopted son of Crow Sun Dance chief Thomas Yellowtail (1903-1993). Fitzgerald and his wife have spent extended periods of time over 50 years attending sacred ceremonies throughout the Plains, Southwest, and Northwest.
Wil Meya
Wil MeyaChairman & CEO
Wilhelm K. Meya is the Chairman and CEO of The Language Conservancy (TLC), an organization he founded in 2005. With a deep passion for languages and the importance of their role in cultures, Meya is at the forefront of language revitalization, overseeing the largest effort of its kind to protect and preserve endangered languages. From an early age, he recognized the significance of language in community and identity, driving him to co-create TLC with a vision of hope, positivity, and healing. A convenor and collaborator, Meya brings together indigenous communities, Native speakers, linguists, tribal leaders, schools, government, and educators and repeatedly demonstrates milestone accomplishments in language revitalization. His work measurably impacts language revitalization efforts around the world with nearly 800,000 people currently supported by TLC’s efforts.
Janine Pease
Janine PeaseBoard Member
Dr. Janine Pease, Ukchiiwaagii’deeiishitcheesh (Loves to Pray), is a Crow tribal member, and great grandmother from Billings, Montana. Her professional career centered in the tribal colleges; as president of Little Big Horn College (1982-2000), an LBHC faculty member in the humanities and social sciences (2013-2020), academic vice president at Fort Peck Community College (2008-2010), and Crow Nation Cabinet Head for Education (2010-2012). Since 2014, Janine has served on the board of the Crow Language Consortium, and was principal of the Chickadee Lodge Language Immersion School (2018-2020) in Crow Agency MT. Dr. Pease received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums in 2019, and a Humanities Montana Heroes Award in 2020. Janine is an activist in American Indian voting rights and Indigenous language revitalization.
Jan Ullrich
Jan UllrichBoard Member
Jan Ullrich, Ph.D., brings over 35 years of experience in language documentation, language analysis, curriculum development and teacher-training to his leadership of TLC’s work. He worked with several hundred Native Speakers and his capacity as an editor helped to produce the New Lakota Dictionary, the most detailed and reliable reference material for the language and currently the largest among dictionaries on Native American languages. Together with Ben Black Bear, Jr. he wrote the Lakota Grammar Handbook.


Language is the lifeblood of culture and the core of identity. When Indigenous communities maintain or learn their languages, it positively impacts their wellbeing.