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.

ŠišókadutaBoard Member
Šišókaduta (Joe Bendickson) (Sisíthuŋ-Waȟpétguŋ Oyáte) joins TLC’s Board of Directors as an active board member of the Lakota Language Consortium (LLC). Additionally, he serves as the Board Chair of Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye (DIO), a nonprofit committed to revitalizing the Dakota language. Through his work at DIO, he played a key role in publishing the Dakota language dictionary app, Dakota language books, and facilitating learning opportunities. Šišókaduta has been dedicated to teaching and learning the Dakota language for over two decades.

Alex FireThunder
Alex FireThunderBoard Member
Alex FireThunder (Oglála Lakȟóta) is currently Executive Director of the LLC. FireThunder obtained his Master of Arts in Lakota Leadership and Tribal Administration from Oglala Lakota College. A traditional singer and Native American Music Award winner, he is also the author of five Lakota picture books scheduled for release in 2024.
Dr. Janine Pease
Dr. 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.
Curtis Yarlott
Curtis YarlottBoard Member
Curtis Yarlott (Apsáalooke) is the Executive Director of St. Labre Indian School, and has been a Crow Language Consortium Board Member since 2019. As a fluent speaker of the Crow language, Yarlott has contributed countless hours of recordings for the Crow Dictionary and classroom materials, and has been an educator for nearly four decades. Under Yarlott’s leadership, St. Labre Education Foundation schools Pretty Eagle (in St. Xavier) and St. Charles (in Pryor) Catholic Academies have expanded dual language classrooms (Crow and English) across the curriculum, for Pre-K to 1st Grade. Additionally, St. Labre sponsors a Crow language immersion pre-Kindergarten in the Lodge Grass District.
Dr. Jan Ullrich
Dr. 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.

Past Board Members

Richard Broken Nose | Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe

Dr. Serafín Coronel-Molina | Quechua

Michael Fitzgerald

Johnson Holy Rock | Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe

Leonard Little Finger | Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe

Kevin Locke | Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Wilhelm Meya

Dr. David Rood


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