Past News


Oneida Elder Named Purpose Prize Fellow

Purpose Prizes Honor Americans Over Age 60 for Making an Extraordinary Impact in their Encore Careers

Oneida — Civic Ventures today announced that Jerry L. Hill, from Oneida, is a 2011 Purpose Prize fellow. Hill was recognized as a social entrepreneur over 60 who, in his encore career, is using his experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on society’s biggest challenges. Now in its sixth year, the $17 million Purpose Prize program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life.

Hill was named a fellow because of his consistent dedication to his Oneida culture and language. He was a language apprentice to Oneida Elder, Amos Christjohn, for 10 years, who inspired and encouraged other Oneidas to revitalize their language, participate in their cultural practices and to become educated as a path toward survival and good citizenship.

Hill’s work through the Indigenous Language Institute, ILI, has resulted in opportunities to visit dozens of Native communities in the United States and Canada amplifying ILI’s reach. His personal history and previous position as a Tribal attorney allowed him to develop an extensive network with other professionally trained Native people. ILI has been able to make a unique impact throughout Indian Country challenge of producing new 1st language speakers, especially among Native children. ILI’s work is accomplished by stimulating self-reliant local opportunities based upon ideas rather that passively waiting for someone else to do whatever needs to be done. The challenge of addressing the needs of successful 2nd language acquisition is formidable but not impossible. The importance of heritage language to Native communities and their cultures is a responsibility Native language teachers and activists are determinedly addressing. ILI recognizes and encourages effective language efforts from review of language proposals to evaluation of existing programs. These are always done at the request of the communities of which we are part.

“While Purpose Prize fellows are helping to solve a wide range of pressing social problems, they have one thing in common,” said Marc Freedman, CEO and founder of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift (PublicAffairs Books). “They – and millions of others in encore careers – are turning personal passions and decades of experience into invaluable contributions across sectors, continents and generations, often through entrepreneurship.”

The approximately 300 attendees of the invitation-only Purpose Prize awards ceremony will hear from Prize judges, including NBC’s Jane Pauley and Sherry Lansing, CEO of The Sherry Lansing Foundation and former chair of Paramount Motion Picture Group. The 28 judges – leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – chose the five winners from a pool of more than 1,000 nominees.

“I believe my training as an attorney laid a groundwork for the discipline needed to pursue Native language revitalization efforts with other tribal members and Native people throughout North America.”

Funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation, The Purpose Prize is a program of Civic Ventures’ Encore Careers campaign (, which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact in the second half of life.

For more information about The Purpose Prize, visit:

About Civic Ventures (
Civic Ventures is a think tank on boomers, work and social purpose. The organization introduced the concept of encore careers, which combine meaning, continued income and social impact. The Purpose Prize, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation, is a program of Civic Ventures.
About: The Indigenous Language Institute has been in existence for 15 years, 10 of which Jerry L. Hill has been President. ILI’s impact in Indian Country is well known, particularly in community development of audio/visual language materials, advanced immersion techniques and teaching as well as partnering with National Native and non-Native organizations to raise the community consciousness about the importance of heritage culture.



ILI's newsletter, Native Language Network, chronicles the efforts of those working in the field of community-based indigenous language revitalization. By signing up for our eNewsletter In each issue of Native Language Network, representatives of Native communities throughout the Americas share the triumphs and concerns they have encountered. Native Language Network is published on-line.

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ILI in the Media

Listen to BBC World Service’s focus on ILI and other important Indigenous topics.

BBC’s interview with ILI is part 4 of 5 of Siobhánn Tighe’s series “Native Americans”.


ILI Wins National Verizon Tech Savvy Award! (pdf)

Indigenous Language Institute
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