The following resolution, SCR 37, was developed at the Intertribal Wordpath Society to help protect Indian languages. Thanks to the strong support of Senators Ted Fisher and Cal Hobson, and representatives Opio Toure, Kenneth Corn, and Bill Nations, the resolution unanimously.
Indian Language Heritage Protection Act (draft)
WHEREAS, the Native American Language Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-477) enunciates the policy of the United States government to "preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages"; and
WHEREAS, the state of Oklahoma is home to 39 tribes, members of which still speak 25 Native American languages. Until recently, Oklahoma had more Native American citizens than any other state. Their histories, cultures and languages together comprise a unique heritage that helps make our state great; and
WHEREAS, Native American history, culture, and language are so interrelated that when a language dies, it takes with it literature, oral history, song, and other important aspects of Native American cultural heritage. The pressures of modern American culture as expressed in television, radio, education, and public life have steadily decreased the attention paid to Indian languages by some Oklahomans; and
WHEREAS, our state values its great diversity of culture, as evidenced by our slogan "Oklahoma Native America." Native American languages are just as sophisticated and just as enriching to the lives of their speakers as are other languages; and
WHEREAS, linguistic and pedagogical study have demonstrated that the cherishing of a people's language of heritage in no way threatens the status of the common language of most Oklahomans and of public discourse in Oklahoma; and
WHEREAS, one-third of all Oklahoma Native American languages have already become extinct in our state, and the remaining ones are endangered; and
WHEREAS, the state of Oklahoma takes pride in the history and culture of Native American people as expressed in their traditional languages and considers those languages a treasured part of the heritage of our state and of the individual tribes of our state; and
WHEREAS, the state of Oklahoma seeks to preserve, protect, and promote our Native American language heritage.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE 1ST SESSION OF THE 48TH OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN:
THAT the Oklahoma State Legislature endorses and supports the policy of the United States government enunciated in the Native American Language Act of 1990 to "preserve, promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice and develop Native American languages."
THAT the Oklahoma State Legislature encourages the teaching and learning of Native American languages at all levels of instruction.
THAT the Oklahoma State Legislature opposes artificial barriers to the instruction or learning of Native American languages and encourages all education authorities to take all appropriate steps to promote and encourage the instruction and learning of Native American languages.
THAT the Oklahoma State Legislature urges the Superintendent of Public Instruction to take appropriate measures to foster respect for Native American languages and to vigilantly address any situations that may occur where proper respect for Native American languages is not provided.
THAT a copy of this resolution be distributed to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Executive Director of the Intertribal Wordpath Society.