Oklahoma tribes oppose English-only legislation

Oklahoma tribes say a bill to make English the "official" language of the state diminishes the importance of Native languages.

Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw words meaning "red" and "man." "If you go to English only, what are we going to call the state of Oklahoma?" Terry Ragan, the director of the Choctaw Nation's language program, asked the Associated Press.

Supporters say they are targeting immigrants in hopes of assimilating them to American culture. But tribal leaders say the same was attempted of American Indians, with disastrous results.

"There's a message sent to those outside of Oklahoma that we're intolerant, we're colloquial and we want to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world," Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith said at a hearing on the measure last month.

Get the Story:
Okla. Indians Balk at English-Only Bill (AP 3/14)

Relevant Links:
Indigenous Language Institute - http://www.indigenous-language.org

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