Senator John Walsh (D-Montana) recently added his name to two bipartisan bills to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages and language immersion.
Walsh is supporting Senator Jon Tester’s Native Language Student Immersion Act (S. 1948), as well as the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2299).
“Preserving Native languages is essential to improving education for tribal nations,” Walsh said. “Support of comprehensive and culturally-relevant languages sets our Native children on a path for success in school and life and allows them to reach their full potential. With this investment in their future, we will help preserve the native languages and traditions for generations to come.”
“Indian country welcomes a new ally in the long fight to protect Native languages,” said Ryan Wilson, President of the National Alliance to Save Native Languages. “Not only will this badly needed legislation help tribes in the great state of Montana, it will also help tribes throughout Indian country in their desperate struggle to save their sacred languages.”
Tester’s Native Language Student Immersion Act will establish a grant program to fund Native language immersion programs throughout Indian country supporting schools using Native American languages in order to improve high school graduation rates, college attainment, and career readiness. All parts of tribal life from housing, school facilities, employment, economic opportunity, and cultural opportunities will be explored and improved through language immersion programs.
The Native Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014 supports and strengthens language immersion programs through federal grants, including support for language nests, language survival schools, and language restoration programs.