Sunday, March 11, 2007

American Indians Say English Only Policy Diminishes Tribal Languages

Another view about the English only movement. Even the name of the state of Oklahoma is not English, would it have to be changed? DP OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ As he visits public schools and colleges where his native Choctaw Indian language is taught, Terry Ragan is as likely to greet people with ``Halito! Chim achukma?'' as he is with its English equivalent: ``Good morning! How are you?''

The state's very name is a Choctaw word meaning land of the red people, and many of Oklahoma's 37 federally recognized tribes are fighting to save native tongues from extinction years after the end of organized efforts to stamp out their languages and cultures.

That's why English-only legislation pending in the Oklahoma Legislature and directed primarily at Hispanic immigrants has been so distasteful to American Indian leaders in this, Oklahoma's centennial year.

The bill points up divisions that continue to exist more than a century after Indians were force-marched to the state and given land, only to see it taken away by settlers _ an event re-enacted every year by schoolchildren across the state.

``If you go to English only, what are we going to call the state of Oklahoma?'' said Ragan, a former school superintendent and director of the Choctaw Nation's language program. ``Even town names in the state will have to be named differently.

``With that type of thinking, we're going to have to change a whole lot of things.''
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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