Editor's note: The following poem was written the morning that the Alaska Legislature declared Alaska's indigenous languages as official state languages in addition to English.

The Words of Earth

when the words of the earth

fail to move the tongues

of those meant to speak

we lose more than language

when the words of the earth

fail to reach the ears

of those meant to hear

we lose more than a culture

when the words of the earth

fail to reach the hearts

of those meant to know

we lose our souls

Don Rearden, author of the novel "The Raven's Gift," grew up in Southwest Alaska and now lives and writes in Anchorage. The preceding work first appeared on his blog and is republished here with permission.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.