May 08, 2007

Money is the root

Tribal-language teaching strugglesThe Office of Public Instruction doesn't have a budget for language preservation.

"We're doing very little because we don't have any money dedicated to language programs," said Lynn Hinch, the bilingual specialist for the state Office of Public Instruction. "We need a K-12 program. Teachers here talked about teaching three times a week for 15 minutes. You can't teach a language in 15 minutes. Spanish teachers wouldn't put up with that. English teachers wouldn't put up with that. Math teachers wouldn't put up with that."

Tribal languages have "little support at the state level," said Hinch.
Why is that the case?American Indians say they lack state support because they are still fighting historic assimilation practices that stripped indigenous people of their language, said Henrietta Mann, a Montana State University professor emeritus.

"Those that came to live with us were steeped in their own cultural world views and wanted everyone else to be like them, to the way we were educated to the way we're supposed to think," said Mann. "In order to accomplish that, they sought to destroy Native languages.

"You still have this tendency to want to change us, to homogenize us. It hasn't changed," said Mann.

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