Announces Significant Federal Funding for Native Language Immersion Program at Sitting Bull College Senator Working to Protect and Strengthen Language Programs in Grant Legislation to help Preserve Language Programs & Help Native Kids Succeed
PoliticalNews.me - Aug 20,2015 - Heitkamp Announces Significant Federal Funding for Native Language Immersion Program at Sitting Bull College
Senator Working to Protect and Strengthen Language Programs in Grant Legislation to help Preserve Language Programs & Help Native Kids Succeed
BISMARCK, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and staunch advocate for tribal language programs, announced nearly $300,000 in federal funding to support Sitting Bull College’s Lak?ól’iyapi Ho?pí (Lakota Language Nest) through the Native Languages Esther Martinez Initiative.
In May, Heitkamp co-sponsored legislation to strengthen Native languages in tribal communities by reauthorizing the Native Languages Esther Martinez Initiative through 2020, the same program that authorizes these funds. The legislation would provide needed funding to Native American educational organizations with the goal of preserving often endangered Native languages in Native communities.
“Native youth have the cards stacked against them in unimaginable ways –more than a third live in poverty, only half graduate from high school and they often don’t have the support system they need to rise above these odds,” said Heitkamp. “Language immersion programs have been shown to boost morale among Native students, improve their performance and attendance at school and give students the tools they need to better understand their history and culture. That’s why I’ve been working in the Senate to pass legislation that will preserve important grant programs – like the program that authorizes these funds and help make sure that Native communities can continue to give Native American children the cultural foundation they need to thrive.”
The bipartisan bill Heitkamp co-sponsored in May would reauthorize the Native American Languages Program – first enacted in 2006 – until 2020. The bill would strengthen existing efforts by Native language nests, Native language survival schools, and Native American language restoration programs to potentially benefit and sustain North Dakota language programs, like those that include Lak?ól’iyapi Ho?pí (Lakota Language Nest) at Standing Rock, Wakanheza oti (Sacred Children's Place) at Spirit Lake, Tiny Turtles preschool at Turtle Mountain.
Heitkamp has long been committed to policies that promote and sustain tribal languages. In May, Heitkamp helped re-introduce a bill that would create a grant program to support Native language immersion instruction from pre-Kindergarten through college. The Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act was recently included within the Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization language – the Every Child Achieves Act – as a Committee amendment and would benefit groups in North Dakota which often face hurdles hiring qualified staff and purchasing relevant curriculum.
In June 2014, Heitkamp welcomed President Obama to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to showcase the tribe’s history and culture. During his visit, Heitkamp discussed the ways in which the federal government can better work with tribal nations to improve conditions and opportunities for Native children and families, including through the advancement of Native language preservation programs. Sitting Bull College’s Lakota Language Nest performed for President Obama and the First Lady during their visit.