Montana Public Radio

Blackfeet language

These Browning kindergartners spend part of their day learning in English, and part of it learning in Blackfeet. The school's aim is to have a class of fluent Blackfeet speakers by the time the students graduate from high school.
Courtesy Emily Ritter Saunders

This year, the Montana state legislature passed a bill that provides funding for public schools to start immersion programs in native languages. It’s part of an effort to preserve these fragile cultures. Across the United States, about 115 languages have been lost in the last five centuries. But so far, the Browning school system, on the southern part of the Blackfeet Reservation, is the only district to take the money.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

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

Clay Scott

This week's Mountain West Voices looks back at the late Darrell Kipp, scholar, educator and Blackfeet language revolutionary.  In a 2012 interview, Kipp reflected on a career that took him from the Army, to the Harvard School of Education, then back to the Blackfeet reservation, where for the last 30 years he pioneered efforts

Clay Scott

This week on "Mountain West Voices:" Conrad Little Leaf talks about the Blackfoot experience on both sides of the U.S. - Canada border, about cultural and linguistic continuity, and the fight against assimilation.

(Broadcast: "Mountain West Voices,"  2/19/14 and 2/1/16, Monday afternoons, 4:53 p.m., or via podcast.)