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This article summarizes existing work that indicates language maintenance and revitalization efforts result in health-related benefits for Native Americans and other indigenous populations. Although forced loss of ancestral language has been a feature of life in most indigenous communities since the first contact with Europeans, the pace of loss has accelerated in the past 50 years. Among the many hardships such communities face, an especially troubling one is lowered health status. There are indications, however, that language maintenance and revitalization efforts have positive effects on physical and communal health among indigenous populations. The types of language programs currently in place are outlined along with a variety of studies that will measure health improvement outcomes correlated with language revitalization efforts. Such evidence justifies increased support for language revitalization in order to improve health.


This article was originally published in F1000 Research, available at DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.8656.1.

This article was distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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