JUNEAU, Alaska - The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill symbolically recognizing 20 Alaska Native languages as official languages of the state.
Supporters of HB216 staged a sit-in at the Capitol Sunday, which was the last scheduled day of the 90-day session, to urge lawmakers to take up the bill. Because this is the second year of this Legislature, any bills not passed by adjournment will die.
Supporters filled the Senate galleries, waiting for the bill to be taken up. They stood during the debate and applauded following the vote, which came after 3 a.m. Monday. At least one woman wiped away tears.
The bill prompted emotional testimony in committee hearings. Sen. Fred Dyson, who carried the bill on the floor, said this was a way to show respect for Alaska's indigenous people.