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Tribal Languages Could Soon Be Taught In Oklahoma Schools - KOAM TV 7

Tribal Languages Could Soon Be Taught In Oklahoma Schools

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Oklahoma students could soon get foreign language credits for taking American Indian Tribal languages. The change is thanks to the State's Department of Education. 

"Hello is hy-ti-to right? ok, so hatita ho-a-see, hy-ti-to? ok…." 

This is Shawneesee Hernandez on the phone with her mother, asking how to say hello in the Shawnee Tribal language. Shawneesee's heritage includes at least three of the 39 federally recognized American Indian Tribes. And like many young native Americans, struggles with learning her native tongue. 

"If it were in school, you wouldn't be able to get busy, because it would be a required class, which would be really great for me," Shawneesee said.
 
And thanks to a rule change by the Oklahoma State Education Department, Shawneesee's wish may soon be a reality. The new rule allows for competent instructors to teach under the supervision of a regularly certified teacher.  Miami Schools consists of 27 percent tribal students,  and it's Assistant Superintendent is excited about the change.
 
"we're just really excited to be able to offer this for our students and for our native American heritage in our area and really keep that culture alive," said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Darr.

But with at least 15 tribes represented at the Miami High School alone, it's principal still have question about implementation.

"It's a great opportunity any time we can start a new programs, you know there are things that we have to look at as far as student interest," said Principal Lisa Munson.
 
But for students like Shawneesee, she says she'd love the opportunity to get foreign language credit for learning her native tongue.  

"Another foreign language of my culture, and other people's cultures would be very refreshing," Shawneesee said.

All of the American Indian Languages spoken in Oklahoma are considered endangered. The State's Education Department hopes the opportunity will increase the number of fluent speakers. 

The change is not yet implemented at schools in Miami. But the District says it will be discussing the opportunity at its next parents meeting next month.

To visit the Miami Public Schools website, click here.

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