In the 1990s federal laws were created to encourage the teaching and speaking of American Indian languages. The ""Dictionary of Jicarilla Apache"", developed within the auspices of the Jicarilla Apache Nation Cultural Preservation Program with support from the Jicarilla Apache Nation Tribal Council and funding from the National Science Foundation, provides documentation of Jicarilla Apache, an Eastern Apachean language, and is intended to provide the basis for classroom and home teaching of the language. This is the first large-scale dictionary of any of the Eastern Apachean languages. The editors are scholars specialising in Native American languages who worked with Wilhelmina Phone, Maureen Olson, and Matilda Martinez, native Jicarilla speakers. Together they created this dictionary, which will be a valuable teaching and learning tool for instructing children and young adults in the Jicarilla Apache community who otherwise have no sustained contact with their heritage language. Today there are fewer than three hundred native speakers of Jicarilla Apache, and the majority of them are elderly. The school-age population is in the hundreds and this dictionary has been specifically developed to support language learning in their schools. Other Apachean peoples, as well as linguists and anthropologists, will find the dictionary useful as well. Included here are over five thousand entries organised both alphabetically and by semantic field. The 'Dictionary' also includes a grammatical sketch of the language and a guide to using the dictionary, in addition to the Jicarilla Apache to English dictionary, an English to Jicarilla index, and a lexicon organised according to semantic domains such as plants, animals, household items, etc., and for nouns and for verbs and semantic and grammatical groupings such as descriptions, activities, and motion verbs.
Wilhelmina Phone has been working on the documentation of Jicarilla for more than thirty years. She has taught the language and developed materials for Jicarilla language classes for adults and children. She will be awarded an honorary doctorate for her achievements from the University of New Mexico in May of 2006. Maureen Olson has an MA in education and teaches Jicarilla Apache in public schools and to adults. She serves as coordinator for bilingual programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She is currently the Jicarilla Language Revitalization Coordinator. Matilda Martinez is a specialist in Jicarilla traditional cultural practice.