Bad Eagle: Tribes wrong on 'Official English' bill

"Oklahoma Republican House Representative George Faught, of Muskogee, wants English to be the language of Americans -- or at least of Oklahomans. He has introduced a bill to that end: HB 1423, the 'Oklahoma English Language Act', which requires that all business of the state be conducted in English, made it through committee on February 7, 2007.

It's not nearly the powerful kind of language law that was passed in California -- a state that has one of the three highest Indian populations in the United States (though many of the Indians have moved there from other states).

Furthermore, the bill expressly states:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to diminish the usage of, prevent the study or development of, or discourage the use of, any Native American language in any context or for any purpose.

Yet Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said he opposes the bill because it casts Oklahomans as isolationists who reject different cultures. 'This creates an image of how Oklahoma will represent itself to the rest of the nation and the world', Smith said. Smith said state government should be encouraging people to broaden their knowledge and learn as many languages as they can. He called the bill 'a slap in the face of American Indians.'

FoxNews reported that George Tiger, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and chairman of the United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, said tribal governments support school language preservation programs that could be harmed by the measure.

But how? Didn't the tribal leaders read the bill?"

Get the Story:
David Yeagley: Official English -- For Indians, Too ( 2/14)

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