August 25, 2013

Southwest Native Languages Must Be Saved, Educators Say


Native languages must be saved, educators say
State and educators put tribes in the spotlight.
By Peg Mcentee
August 19, 2013

Over several years, Native American educators and Utah tribal and state leaders have collaborated on a program offering Navajo and other native students courses on their own language, culture, history, government and character development.

It is a way for students who may know little about their heritage to learn a language and culture that are inseparable, says Clayton Long, bilingual education director in the San Juan School District.

The program is not confined to Navajo students, however. Educators in northeastern Utah have similar courses for Ute students, as did the western town of Ibapah for Goshute students at one time.

But while Navajo language education is important, getting funds for all forms of education is essential, says Ceceilia Tso, director of the University of Utah’s American Indian Teacher Education Collaboration.

She’s working with Gov. Gary Herbert and Shirlee Silversmith, head of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, to promote legislation that would create — and fund — an Indian Education Act.

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