The International Year of Indigenous Languages


In 2016, the United Nations (UN) decided that 2019 is the international year for indigenous languages. UNESCO is responsible for managing IYIL 2019.

A steering group for IYIL 2019 has been established where all the seven indigenous areas and associated states are represented. Sami president Aili Keskitalo is a indigenous representative of the Arctic area, as well as one of the leaders in the steering group.

The goal of the indigenous language year is to highlight and promote the situation of indigenous languages. Of the worlds about 7,000 languages, thousands of languages ​​can disappear and many have already disappeared.

Indigenous languages ​​are in a particularly vulnerable situation. About 2680 languages ​​are endangered languages. In UNESCO’s list of endangered languages, Sami languages ​​are classified as endangered or seriously endangered languages:

  • Northern Sami is an endangered language
  • Lule Sami, Kildin Sami, Southern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami are highly endangered languages
  • Ter Sami, Ume Sami and Pite Sami are critically endangered languages

In addition, Akkala and Kemi Sami are both considered as vanished languages in the UNESCO’s list of languages.

Throughout the International Year of Indigenous Languages, indigenous languages ​​will be made visible through five main areas:

  • More understanding, reconciliation work and international cooperation between different stakeholders
  • Establish good conditions for sharing knowledge and dissemination, which take into account indigenous people
  • Integrate indigenous languages ​​into the majority language and incorporate indigenous languages ​​into national politics, national strategy plans and statutes
  • Facilitate conditions through capacity building
  • Growth and development through new knowledge

The International Year of Indigenous Languages


Read more about the International Year of Indigenous Languages ​​on this website. On this page you will find more information as well as a map showing the events associated with IYIL 2019.

Read more about IYIL 2019