Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arabic. Not Blackfeet or Crow?

The Missoulian reports that rudimentary Arabic is being offered to Hellgate High students. Sure. That's cool.

But, why not Crow, Blackfeet, Assiniboine and the other tongues native to Montana? ip has hammered on the absence of Lakota in South Dakota high schools and on language equivalents for geographical features on SDDoT highway maps.

Kayla Gahagan:

For public schools, simply meeting No Child Left Behind requirements absorbs resources, and with a majority of the day devoted to math and reading, there is little time for Lakota, said Mike Carlow, director of the Tusweca Tiospaye, an organization dedicated to revitalizing the language.  But learning the Lakota language and mastering other subjects does not have to be mutually exclusive, said Nicky Belle, project coordinator for the Lakota language program at Red Cloud.  "It's not learning Lakota language and culture to the detriment of everything else," he said.  Success in a second language often translates into overall academic success, experts say, and educators don't have to separate the two.  Red Cloud Indian School language teacher Philomine Lakota said the desire to learn the language can't be tied directly to success in school anyway, or it won't be reason enough for students to learn it.  "It goes beyond college and how much you earn," she said. "The greater world is going to hold you to who you are."  Darrell Kipp, founder of the Piegan Institute on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwest Montana, is convinced there is only one way to save a language: immersion.  The Blackfeet language stood on the verge of extinction in 1985. It prompted Kipp and several others to found the institute and start an immersion school, modeled after successful programs of the Aha Punanoe Leo in Hawaii, which have produced more than 1,000 fluent speakers in the past 25 years.  The Blackfeet program is much more humble, Kipp said, but serves as a model for many of the tribes in the western half of the United States. At least a handful of tribal members visit every month to observe the program, he said.
South Dakota high schools barely offer German, Norwegian, Danish, the languages of its own immigrant population. My sister teaches high school Spanish, now hugely important to families moving to and employed in, Brookings County. But, Lakota is offered in reservation schools only.

What's up with that?

No comments: