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Alaska lawmakers vote to formally recognize indigenous languages

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By Steve Quinn

JUNEAU, Alaska (Reuters) – Alaska lawmakers gave final approval on Monday to a bill that would officially recognize the state’s 20 indigenous languages in a symbolic move that gives a nod to tribal efforts to save Native American tongues at risk of dying out.

The move would make Alaska only the second U.S. state, after Hawaii, to officially recognize indigenous languages, although English would remain the official language and the state would not be required to conduct business in any other tongue.

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“Here is a chance that we have to show respect for these language groups,” Alaska state senator Fred Dyson said in an address to his colleagues before the bill passed the state Senate 18-2. The state House had already passed the bill, 38-0, so it now awaits Governor Sean Parnell’s signature.

“It’s a small way to say ‘Hey, things haven’t always been good in the past, but here’s one way we are showing that we respect the languages of Alaska’s indigenous people,” said Dyson, a Republican.

Many Alaska native languages are down to a few hundred fluent speakers or fewer, many of whom are elderly. In 2008, the state watched one of its indigenous languages become extinct with the death of Marie Smith, the last fluent speaker of Eyak.

The legislature’s move was welcomed by 30 to 40 language advocates – tribal elders, language students and non-natives – who spent nearly 18 hours at the Capitol while the bill appeared to languish on the Senate’s calendar.

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They sat in halls signing and praying, creating a silent lobby that proved powerful in the legislative session’s waning hours, and the bill was ultimately passed by the Senate in the early hours of Monday morning.

“Our leaders grew up tortured – just tortured – as children for speaking their language, for being who they are. Now for them to hear that they are equal is a huge weight lifted off of their shoulders,” said Lance Twitchell, a professor of native languages at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

“Languages are a genetic connection to our ancestors,” said Twitchell, who teaches the Southeast Alaska indigenous language of Tlingit. “They are everything: the blood that flows through our veins; the air that we breathe.”

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(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)

[Image: “Smiling Eskimo Woman Wearing Traditional Clothing,” via Shutterstock]

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‘It’s treachery if not treason’: Harvard’s Laurence Tribe destroys Trump’s claim he’s above the law

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Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump's claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

The host played a notorious clip of Trump.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible," Trump argued.

"And now he has gone beyond that," O'Donnell noted. "Now the president is sayin, 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'"

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Internet blown away by Giuliani’s ‘pants-sh*tting panic’ freak out on CNN’s Cuomo

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani received harsh reviews of his Thursday evening appearance on CNN with anchor Chris Cuomo.

Many people worried about Giuliani's mental health after watching the interview.

Here is some of what people were saying about Trump's defense attorney.

https://twitter.com/RadioFreeTom/status/1174860581897199617

https://twitter.com/ananavarro/status/1174859510600613888?s=21

https://twitter.com/elise_jordan/status/1174857898800898048?s=21

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Maddow is visibly shocked Trump is claiming in court the president can’t even be investigated

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC was flabbergasted by the latest court moves by President Donald Trump as he continues to hide his tax returns from investigators.

The host noted the ongoing legal battle Trump is waging to keep his accounting firm, Mazars, from handing over eight years of his tax returns to New York state investigators.

The host was shocked by the headline on the front-page of The Washington Post website.

[caption id="attachment_1544917" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Headline in The New York Times: "Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated" screengrab.[/caption]

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