ERIC Number: ED209052
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
"Speaking Indian": Parameters of Language Use Among American Indians. Focus, Number 6.
A brief overview of the status of language use in Native American communities reveals that while approximately 206 different languages and language dialects persist today, an estimated 49 languages have fewer than 10 speakers aged 50 or over, while 6 of these languages have more than 10,000 speakers of all generations. That these languages persist attests to the vigor of Native cultures and the value placed on Native languages by parents and parent surrogates who did, and still do, consciously teach children a Native language. Historically and contemporarily, schools and the educational processes have been the most effective means by which Native Americans have become oriented to a new lifeway. Early government policies were repressive, restricting the use of Native languages and resulting in language adaptations, many influenced by Christian missionaries and rituals. Despite current concern for the need for bilingual bicultural education for Indian students, research has not yielded data which indicate the ranges and viability of bilingualism in Native American communities. In this era of enhanced Indian identity, speaking an indigenous language is now a decided asset for any Native American. There has been a recent proliferation of Native language courses taught in institutions of higher education. (NEC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, Arlington, VA.