August 24, 2023

Federal Grants Support Language and Cultural Preservation

A parent and child reading a book together.
A parent and child reading a book together during Papaha Kuaola’s 2021 IMLS project (NH-250455OLS-21).

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced grants totaling $5,763,000 through three programs designed to support and improve library services of Native American, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian organizations.

"With these awards, IMLS recognizes the importance of supporting libraries and cultural centers in First Nations and Tribal communities," said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. "The importance of cultural learning is essential in all communities, but it is critical to embrace and honor the precious and unique heritage of Native communities. These Native American and Native Hawaiian grants expand and enhance literacy programs, language preservation, community storytelling, and digital access.”

Native American Library Services Basic Grants support existing library operations and maintain core library services. These non-competitive grants are awarded in equal amounts among eligible applicants. Grants totaling $1,562,754 were awarded to 144 Indian Tribes, Alaska Native villages, and other regional and village corporations.

Native American Library Services Enhancement Grants assist Native American Tribes in improving core library services for their communities. Enhancement Grants are only awarded to applicants that have applied for a Native American Library Services Basic Grant in the same fiscal year.

IMLS received 31 applications requesting $4,106,377 and was able to award $3,750,246 to 29 Tribes in 11 states. This year’s awarded grants will advance the preservation and revitalization of language and culture, as well as educational programming and digital services.

Native Hawaiian Library Services Grants are available to nonprofit organizations that primarily serve and represent Native Hawaiians so they can enhance existing or implement new library services. IMLS received four applications requesting $600,000 and awarded $450,000 to three organizations serving Native Hawaiians.

Some examples of awarded projects include:

  • The Huna Totem Corporation will produce short films, lesson plans, and educational programming on Hoonah Tlingit traditions, history, and culture to share via an online digital archive. It also will supplement its archival holdings by recording new interviews with local elders to preserve their knowledge for future generations. The project will support travel for staff to teach a storytelling workshop in Hoonah and to host a teacher in-service and community presentation in Juneau, Alaska.

  • The Quinault Indian Nation will develop a Quinault language vocabulary builder application in partnership with The Language Conservancy. The project will revitalize the Quinault language through offering access to a mobile, free language learning tool. Importantly, the application can be used with or without internet connection after it has been downloaded, enabling language learners in rural areas without reliable internet to use this language resource. The application will feature a pronunciation guide so that users can learn Quinault pronunciations as well as how to read Quinault orthography.

  • The Chilkat Indian Village’s “Reclaiming and Sustaining Our Traditional Knowledge” project will increase culturally relevant and place-based resources and learning opportunities for library patrons by supporting the continuation of haa kustiyee, ‘our way of life’. Project activities include hosting Northwest Coast Arts workshops to increase learning opportunities, filming eight traditional skills demonstrations to expand community-developed resources, as well as facilitating and filming eight panel discussions on special topics relevant to the culture and history of the Chilkat Valley to be accessed by tribal members, Chilkat Valley residents, researchers, and future generations.

  • The Chippewa Cree Tribe of The Rocky Boy Reservation will improve access to the Stone Child College/Rocky Boy Community Library’s resources and promote preservation of the Chippewa Cree culture. Notably, the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is the only reservation in the United States that speaks Cree. The grant will support twelve community events, with topics such as typing and writing in Cree, storytelling, native plants of Rocky Boy. Additionally, two one-day workshops with local artists and craftsmen on two of the following topics will be offered: ribbon shirts/ribbon skirts, crockpot meals, painting workshop, dry meat making, or a historical tour of Rocky Boy.

  • The Papahana Kuaola’s MoʻoʻĀina (Stories of the Land) will address the need for increased access to Hawaiian cultural-based literature that supports ʻāina and place-based practices to 2,000 participants on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Molokai (as identified by community surveys conducted by Papahana Kuaola). Grant funds will improve the quality of library services to Native Hawaiians through literacy-based programs like Mo’olelo Monday reading sessions that connect traditional Hawaiian moʻolelo to natural resources and cultural practices. Funds will also develop learning materials such as visual aids, activity worksheets and a Mo’olelo Book Box that will support teachers in their delivery of in-class Hawaiian Culture-Based Education (HCBE) instruction, as well as family/community learning at home.

For more information about upcoming grant opportunities, please visit the IMLS website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America's museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Native American Library Services
Native Hawaiian Library Services