Drawing extensively from Indigenous scholarship, I argue for more holistic and inclusive notions of language and language vitality. This enables a better understanding of language revitalization’s role as a protective factor, as well as how to evaluate its success. I present data from the Indigenous communities of the United States and Canada showing that language shift correlates with a host of negative outcomes: educational, economic, and well-being. In contrast, language revitalization may confer protective effects, suggesting that it is better understood through resilience. A more holistic framework also provides an intellectually coherent integration of language revitalization, language documentation, and language itself.