Montana Public Radio

Governor Signs Two Native Language Preservation Bills

May 6, 2015

Tribal leaders from across Montana gathered at the state capitol today as Governor Steve Bullock signed two bills designed to preserve native languages.

Jay Dusty Bull from the Blackfeet Tribe sang the family song of Senator Jonathan Windy Boy as representatives of Montana tribes gathered to witness the governor sign Windy Boy’s bill creating an Indian-language immersion program for schools with at least 10 percent Indian enrollment. Windy Boy says his own Chippewa Cree tribe is an example of a people at risk of losing their language.

"We have 7,000 enrolled members, 4,000 residents, and 162 fluent speakers.  And if we didn’t preserve and if we don’t perpetuate what we have before us, we’ll see the extinction of languages in our generation."

Bullock also put his name on Representative George Kipp’s bill to continue the Montana Indian Language Preservation program, which creates dictionaries, recordings, and teaching materials for the languages spoken by Montana’s first residents.