Native American Language Preservation

Language preservation is essential because a language lost is a culture forgotten. In MTPR’s article, “Lawmakers Consider Expanding Montana’s Native Language Preservation Program,” author Cole Grant notes that “House Bill 37 seeks to add song to Montana’s Indian language preservation program, which protects indigenous spoken, written, and sign language.” Voting yes on more initiatives to preserve native languages will benefit not only the individuals learning these languages but also all of Montana.

According to recent studies, linguists estimate that 50% to 90% of the world’s current languages will disappear by the end of the century. When these languages vanish, we will loose our conduit to those cultures’ heritages. No longer will we have access to the vast wealth of knowledge these people acquired over centuries. Stories, poems, songs—all will be lost. Loosing these cultural treasures will be harmful to all Montanans; Native American culture is a vital part of the backbone of Montana history. With missing vertebrae, our beautiful state will be culturally crippled. Safeguarding native languages is crucial because, as Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder says, “If we don’t do anything to assist the tribes with the language, we’re going to be witnessing the extinction of Indian languages.”

Rekindling a language is difficult, but that does not mean we should give up on it. To preserve the languages of our local Native Americans, we must vote to increase language immersion in school programs.