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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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January 17, 2014 - 4:19 pm

Five Senate Democrats this week introduced a bill to offer financial incentives to classes from pre-kindergarten through graduate school that immerse students in Native American languages.

The Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act cites reports from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and educational institutions “that use primarily Native American languages to deliver education” and “have indicated that students from these schools have generally had high school graduation and college attendance rates above the norm for their peers.”

“There is a critical need that requires immediate action to support education through Native American languages to preserve these languages,” states the legislation, which would establish a grant program to fund Native language educational programs.

“Preserving Native American languages is crucial to protecting the culture and heritage of our nation’s First Peoples,”
said Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Through no fault of their own, our Nation’s First Peoples have suffered from various policies and reform efforts aimed at terminating Native languages. Fortunately, Alaska Natives are a resilient people who have worked hard to preserve almost two dozen various indigenous languages.”

Begich’s co-sponsors are Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

“Today immersion schools and programs offer students tremendous learning opportunities and are indicators of student achievement and success,” Begich said. “I’m honored to join my Senate colleagues in this effort and will work hard to advance this important legislation.”

Schools eligible for the grants would be “using Native American languages as the primary language of instruction of all curriculum.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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All these BS casino jokes. Go piss up a rope.

One of my family members was beaten whenever she spoke her language at boarding school. She only knows English now.

Normally I'd say this wasn't a federal concern. The tribes are federally controlled, however, so in this case it makes sense.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree that this isn't funny.

I've read that in Alaska at least, efforts to teach Native kids in their own language ends up turning out kids who can't speak either language. Foreigners in their own country. With suitably reduced life prospects. if Native organizations and communities want to do this privately, more power to them. Otherwise, a dying language is a dying language.

Preserving "artisanal languages" is not the job of the educational system or the taxpayer. Fashionable liberal guilt notwithstanding. What Grandma endured in boarding school cannot be undone by victimizing the current generation.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, it's an interesting contrast to the days when the government schools punished kids for speaking a Native language.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Madness.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why should schools teach languages that only a few tens, or hundreds, of thousands of people speak? Especially since speaking those languages won't assist anyone in finding a well-paying job, or successfully functioning in modern society?

If the tribes want to preserve those languages, let them spend the money to do so, not the American taxpayer.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course, we simply must do this, in the name of fairness, empathy and equality of outcomes. It's only right.

By the way, what are the Ojibwe, Menominee, and Ho-Chunk words for "slot machine" and "blackjack"? How could they have survived for the last two thousand years without knowing this in their native languages, of which there seem to be several hundred.

They do seem to have had all along a word for "jackpot". It's "casino".
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Concentrate on casinos.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
More 'feel good' legislation from Senate democrats as they shuffle off to extinction.

Does anyone do any critical analysis of these proposals? How are you going to teach someone effectively thru several years of elementary and secondary schooling by purely oral communication? Does anyone in DC realize that most American Indian languages have no writing systems? Cherokee is the notable exception. How do you teach and communicate technical and scientific concepts in languages which have no vocabulary with which to express them?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sad thing is they're not shuffling off to extinction. Most of these classes will be in "Native American Studies" or some liberal arts field with emphasis on Indian culture, literature, folklore, and other related fields. These folks won't be studying computer science or applied physics in Lakotah, or anything like that.

All this is going to do is funnel a pile of money into various educational institutions, which will in turn divert a considerable portion of it back to the Democrats, in the form of legal kickbacks, the technical term for which is "campaign contributions."

The graduates will either be unemployed, teach after they graduate, get a job in another field, or just maybe wander off, being angry at whites and Europeans in general. They'll be irrelevant, but the money won't be.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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