Bill expands Native language program to include song

Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

The Montana Indian language preservation program was established in 2013 with the aim of protecting Native American spoken, written and sign language.

House Bill 37 would add song to that list, and give the program $1 million out of the state’s general fund to continue for another two years.

The bill passed the House without that price tag.

Republican Senator Keith Regier of Kalispell said at a hearing in January recorded by the Legislature that tribes could look for other funding sources.

“And I feel that they can be funding what this bill hopes to do in the federal funds that they get.”

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Jonathan Windy Boy from Rocky Boy, disagrees.

 

“This isn’t a handout, this is a hand up, to give us an opportunity to preserve.”

After being amended to include the general fund money, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, and will be heard there Thursday.

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.