Gov. Signs Bills Aimed at Preserving Indian Languages

Bills encouragw schools to develop American Indian language immersion programs

By Molly Priddy

HELENA — The governor has signed bills aimed at encouraging schools to develop American Indian language immersion programs and preserving Indian languages.

Gov. Steve Bullock signed the bills Wednesday at the Capitol, saying Montana is one of the few states addressing the preservation of Native languages.

The language immersion law sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder will provide $45,000 over two years for the creation of programs in schools with Indian student enrollment of at least 10 percent.

A state legislative analyst says it’s enough money to allow five school districts to be compensated for immersion programs with a certified specialist teaching 17 students in the language for half the day.

The second bill will extend the Montana Indian Language Preservation program which was started in the 2013 legislative session.

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