Friday, February 13, 2009

Here we go again

This time it's Oklahoma

I just received this via the Siouan List. Such a bill is a slap in the face to those of us who commit ourselves to the preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages in the United States and around the world. It shows racism is still rampant in our country. Native Americans were forcibly moved to Oklahoma (formerly known as Indian Territory) by the thousands (remember the Trail of Tears) and now, on top of that, they're being told their languages are not good enough to be considered equal to English, the European colonial language that has been shoved down their throats (while literally having their mouths washed out with soap or being beaten for speaking their native languages) for centuries.

Here is the email that was forwarded:

Senator Sykes (R-24, Newcastle), SJR30 English Only bill will be heard before the Senate General Government Committee on Monday, February 16th at 10:00 a.m. This bill provides for a constitutional amendment declaring the English language to be the official language of the State of Oklahoma.

The Cherokee Nation opposes this legislation. Oklahoma tribes have come together to fight against the English Only legislation. Other professional groups in health, education, business and clergy have joined efforts to stand against this proposed legislation.

Oklahoma has been blessed with more than 35 Indian nations, each of which has a unique culture. Part of that culture comes from the richness of native languages, which have been spoken here for centuries before Oklahoma became a State. Part of Oklahoma's identity to the world is our rich tribal heritage and we should use our diversity to promote our state. The English Only initiative symbolizes injustice and discrimination. Why have an official language to show such narrow-mindedness?

It sends the wrong message to our youth, telling them that their native language isn't seen as valuable. Academic studies have shown that children who are fluent in more than one language perform better on standardized tests than children who speak only English. We should look to encourage language diversity among Oklahoma's citizens.
I wish Native Oklahomans and anyone who values multiple languages and cultures success in blocking passage of this bill.


Dennis King said...

On the positive side, if there is one, that would give Indian and other young people something to rebel against! "F**k the establishment and their fascist rule, I'm going to speak ______!"

I have friends, very secular Jews, who decided to give their children, three boys, a Jewish education complete with bar mitzvahs, "so that they'll have something solid to reject"! ;-)

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That was really waiting to happen. Reality catching up with fiction!

"so that they'll have something solid to reject"!

:-D :-D :-D

Tim Brookes said...

This is fascinating. You may want to go to my site,, and check out the Endangered Alphabets page, and in particular the article-in-progress called Searching for Cherokee. At the moment there's little text there, but there are photos you may find fascinating. The article will be done within two weeks.