Language Preservation Gets Spotlight But No Action

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength
By Gerald E. Gipp, Ph.D.

GERALD E. GIPPEarlier this year, Indian educators, led by the National Indian Education Association, put out an urgent call seeking support for H.R. 4766, the Native American Languages Preservation Act of 2006. Although the bill was bumped to the 110th Congress, it provided an opportunity for many tribal leaders to identify language loss as a crisis across Indian country.

The tribal colleges have long been committed to language and culture education; in fact, most were chartered by Indian governments for this specific purpose, along with higher education. Each tribal college provides language and culture classes with its limited resources, and this issue highlights some of their efforts.

Our readers will recall that in TCJ, Vol. 15, No.3, several tribal college leaders and supporters wrote about language revitalization and some recommended language immersion as the most effective means of language instruction. The challenge of revitalizing tribal languages remains; we must revisit it until we can report language stabilization.

Next, we draw your attention to a letter in this issue which criticizes advertisements that we carry. To clarify our policy: When an advertisement appears in TCJ, it does not imply our endorsement.

Readers make their own decisions about the advertisements, just as they make their decisions about where to seek employment.  While we wholeheartedly encourage and support the notion of our people returning to work in their communities, the reality is the option to work at home is not always available. We very much appreciate our advertisers, both in print or online. We also welcome advertising from tribes or organizations serving them.

The Journal is operated under the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, a non-profit organization with limited revenue.  While we do not take funding from just anyone, the fact is, all our tribal colleges receive federal funds, and they collaborate with federal agencies, as mandated by the Executive Order on Tribal Colleges and Universities (EO 13270). Tribal college students benefit from those collaborations such as the NASA /AIHEC Summer Research Experience described in a supplement to this issue.  As Vincent Townsend (Bishop Paiute Tribe, Haskell Indian Nations University) so eloquently stated, “The Milky Way is a path, and I believe it has something to do with our future.”  Vincent spent part of the summer working as a student researcher at NASA-Langley Research Center in Virginia.

During the publishing life of Tribal College Journal, hundreds of articles have been written by many fine writers. In this issue for the first time, we provide a “Contributors’ Page” so you can learn more about the writers who tell the stories. We welcome your feedback at editor@tribalcollegejournal.org.

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