indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Senate bill called vital to Native language survival
FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2003

A bill to expand the education of Native languages drew so much support at a Senate hearing on Thursday that just about everyone asked to be a part of it.

Amendments to the Native American Languages Act, first passed in 1990, will authorize the creation of three "survival schools" in Alaska, Hawaii and Montana. Modeled after a successful Native Hawaiian program, the schools will provide comprehensive education in an all-Native environment.

"Language is important," said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the bill's sponsor. "It's a link to the past and I think it's an anchor to the future."

The idea was warmly embraced by more than a dozen witnesses who documented their own successes in teaching Native languages. During the hearing, which was interrupted several times due to frequent Senate votes on the tax cut, they asked to be included in the survival school initiative.

"Given our unique circumstances the Southwest, we hope this committee will entertain a recommendation that a fourth center be established that will serve Native people in the Southwest," said Dr. Christine Sims, chairwoman of the Linguistic Institute for Native Americans and an Acoma Pueblo tribal member. Sims said Pueblo, Apache, Navajo and other tribes will benefit.

Speakers also asked the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to address the impacts of the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates federal standards in public education. They said a teacher certification requirement will hurt Native instructors, some of whom are tribal elders who were forbidden to speak their own languages.

"It doesn't take into account our Native language that are endangered and [it] will endanger all Native American children," said Geneva Navarro, 77, who teaches Comanche at the Comanche Nation College in Oklahoma.

"These Native languages helped save our country in World War I and World War II," she added.

Rita Coosewon, 71, is the only Comanche language instructor in her area's public school system but has to work with a certified teacher. She was taken to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school at a young age and marveled at the changes federal law and policy have brought about in her lifetime.

"What a twist for them to ask me to come and teach this language that they wanted so hard for me not to know," she said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Education Secretary Rod Paige had an "eye-opening experience" when he visited rural Alaska Native schools last week. "Keeping the languages alive -- we recognize that it is a challenge in the state," she said. "It ought not to be so."

Witnesses testified about the benefits of Native language instruction. They said it boosts boosts academic performance, preserves tribal culture and lowers drop out rates.

Jocelyn DesRosier started off as a volunteer at the Piegan Institute / Nizipuhwahsin School on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana and is now a teacher. She said graduates of the school, which serves up to grades 8, receive praise when they enter high school.

"The principal keeps phoning us and asking us what we did to these children," she said, "because they are so brilliant."

Dr. Kalena Silva, director of the Ka Haka‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani College at the University of Hawai'i, said 80 percent of students in the Native Hawaiian immersion program enter college.

Aside from the survival school, the bill authorizes "language nests." Tribes, tribal colleges, Native language educational organizations and other organizations can receive funds from the Department of Education for instructional programs.

Inouye acknowledged the changes suggested by the witnesses and said he hopes the bill will be approved by the Senate committee by the end of July.

Relevant Documents:
Witness List (May 15, 2003)

Get the Bill:
Native American Languages Act Amendments Act of 2003 (S.575)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Federal judge hears arguments in ICWA case (3/6)
James Williams: Lac Vieux Desert Band regulates online lending (3/6)
Karlene Hunter: Cultural appropriation is another form of racism (3/6)
Michael Paul Hill: Agent Orange sprayed on Arizona reservation (3/6)
Menominee Nation considers off-reservation casino bid in Illinois (3/6)
Native Sun News: Treaty defenders to see Keystone fight to end (3/5)
Charmaine White Face: Radioactivity found in Pine Ridge waters (3/5)
Winona LaDuke: Consider marijuana and hemp in Indian Country (3/5)
Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Tribe launches marijuana project (3/5)
Measure reaffirms Navajo Nation policy against legal marijuana (3/5)
Lynn Armitage: Housing program aids Native violence survivors (3/5)
Oglala Sioux Tribe bans attorney in racial hockey game incident (3/5)
Military halted dig on island after questions from Pechanga Band (3/5)
Cash lenders accused of targeting tribal members in New Mexico (3/5)
Opponents not happy with land-into-trust bill for Chumash Tribe (3/5)
County can't stop Shingle Springs Band from opening gun range (3/5)
Mississippi Choctaws hold ribbon-cutting at $55M health center (3/5)
Indian skateboarding exhibit travels to Umatilla Tribes museum (3/5)
Some youth removed at center on Yerington Paiute Reservation (3/5)
Nita Battise sworn in as new leader of Alabama-Coushatta Tribe (3/5)
Laguna Pueblo supports Class III casino compact in New Mexico (3/5)
Seminole Tribe seeks approval for 537-room casino hotel tower (3/5)
Narragansett Tribe loses decision in non-Indian gaming dispute (3/5)
Ex-lawyer sentenced in Twenty-Nine Palms Band gaming scam (3/5)
Defendant pleas in robbery at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (3/5)
Editorial: Mohegan Tribe hits milestone with gaming enterprise (3/5)
Native News News: Ojibwe flautist shares message with music (3/4)
Audio: Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up IRRIGATE Act (3/4)
9th Circuit to consider Medicine Lake sacred site dispute again (3/4)
Winona LaDuke: Ingrid Washinawatok's vision remains strong (3/4)
Tim Ballew: Northwest Indian College builds on tribal traditions (3/4)
Steven Newcomb: Domination doctrine and the Quinault Nation (3/4)
Stanley Heller: Help eliminate an Indian mascot in Connecticut (3/4)
Editorial: Mascot reflects history of violence and discrimination (3/4)
Column: Work with tribes in Washington on marijuana industry (3/4)
Navajo Nation files human rights petition to protect sacred site (3/4)
Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL measure (3/4)
Yakama Nation woman fights tribe for custody of 12-year-old (3/4)
Chumash Tribe cheers introduction of land-into-trust measure (3/4)
Leader of Chippewa Cree Tribe ousted from office for 3rd time (3/4)
Yurok Tribe planning to debut new justice facility in the spring (3/4)
UTTC president named to panel to choose new UND nickname (3/4)
Another lawsuit filed over former federal judge's racist emails (3/4)
Cowlitz Tribe still waiting for BIA to place gaming site in trust (3/4)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe hails decision in gaming dispute (3/4)
Mohegan Tribe remains interested in new casino near border (3/4)
Mashantucket Tribe joins gaming proposal in Massachusetts (3/4)
Opinion: Florida gaming expansion bill leads to less gaming (3/4)
Native Sun News: Mine proposed near Black Hills sacred site (3/3)
Native youth send video message to Obama on Keystone XL (3/3)
Lummi Nation leader moves ahead with tribal cannabis group (3/3)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.