State lawmakers consider bills aiding Native language preservation
HELENA – Lawmakers in Helena are looking at two bills that deal with Indian language preservation and education.
House Bill 37 seeks to add song to Montana’s Indian language preservation program, which protects indigenous spoken, written, and sign language.
Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder says this preservation helps other programs, like the Indian Language Immersion Program.
“If we don’t do anything to assist the tribes with the language, we’re going to be witnessing the extinction of Indian languages.”
Students involved in the immersion program learn subjects like math, science and social studies in indigenous languages for part of their day.
Senate Bill 14 would expand that program, going from students spending 30 percent of their day their first year immersed in a language, to half of the day by their third year.
Both bills will be heard Friday afternoon.
Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.