Three decades ago, less than 50 children spoke Hawaiian, experts say. Today, Hilo alone is home to the highest concentration of young Native-American language speakers in the country.

To honor those successes and encourage similar ones in other indigenous communities around the world, the Big Island town will be hosting a symposium over the next few days entitled “Hilo: the Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium.” Venues include the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s newly created Hawaiian language building, Haleolelo.

Aha Punana Leo, a Native Hawaiian education consortium whose language programs include a network of preschools and the Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki immersion school, is spearheading the sold-out event and has received a $40,000 grant to bring language revitalization advocates from across the country to the conference. The grant is from the Lannan Foundation, which advocates for cultural freedom, diversity and creativity.

Expected attendees include activists from 17 states and 12 countries, including 14 Native American tribes. The symposium, which runs Jan. 15 through 19, will cover issues such as curriculum development and government testing policies.

Click here for more info on the symposium.

— Alia Wong