Montana could spend $2 million to preserve native languages

A Montana legislator has advanced the preservation of Native languages. From Mike Dennison's piece in the Helena Independent Record:
Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy treated fellow state senators Wednesday to something they rarely hear: A greeting in his native Cree tongue. “Ki-k-say pah-yo Kah-ki-yo Ni-wah-ko mah-kah-nah-k,” he said as he closed on his bill to establish an Indian language preservation pilot program. He said later the Cree greeting translates roughly into English as “I wish you all a wonderful day, all of my relations.” The Senate voted 44-6 to approve Windy Boy’s Senate bill 342, which now heads to the House, which also will consider whether to approve the $2 million in funding for the pilot program to help preserve Montana’s several Native American tongues.
Mary Kim Titla, a member of the San Carlos Apache Nation which is trapped within the state of Arizona was one of six witnesses testifying before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about how Native Americans can reclaim their image and identity in society.

Maryann Batlle quotes Titla in the Tucson Sentinel:
Panelists said that Congress should continue to support Indian Country on issues such as education, tribal self-determination and self-governance to ensure that Native Americans can protect their cultures. Still, she said more needs to be done to help native students retain their identity. She said that when native schools fail to reach state-issued benchmarks, the “failing” label can have a negative effect on students and give the impression that the whole community is a failure, even though there are success stories.
Lawyers trained in indigenous languages have access to stories that could reverse the loss of treaty lands.

Kayla Gahagan wrote in the Rapid City Journal:
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.
The Missoulian reported 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.

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.

Ruth Moon brought a story of hopefulness in the Rapid City Journal:
Lakota is part of the "Dakota" language group, the third most commonly spoken Native American language in the country, but new Census estimates indicate fewer than 19,000 people still speak it. More than 10,000 of the nation's Dakota speakers live in South Dakota. Navajo is the most commonly spoken Native American language with more than 150,000 speakers. Nearly 20,000 people speak Yupik, the language of central Alaskan indigenous people. The "Dakota" language group comprises 18 language variations.
The US Census Bureau cites the languages:
Assiniboin, Brule, Brule Sioux, Da'catah/Dakota/Dakota Sioux, Hunkpapa/Hunkpapa Sioux, Lakota/Lakotah/Lakota Sioux, Nakota/Nakota Sioux, Oglala/Oglala Sioux, Santee, Teton, Yankton.
Here are some additional resources (thanks to Nadene): The Endangered Language Fund and Stephan Greymorning (pdf)

1 comment:

Nadene said...

Larry, here's another link... for Cree language revitalisation. From my University of Toronto Coursera class: http://apihtawikosisan.com/2013/02/08/idle-no-more-some-ideas-for-cree-language-revitalisation-resource-focus/