Native American language preservation program moving to the Sena - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Native American language preservation program moving to the Senate with $1 million price tag

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(MSU file photo by Kelly Gorham) (MSU file photo by Kelly Gorham)

The Montana Indian language preservation program was established in 2013 with the aim of protecting Native American spoken, written and sign language.

House Bill 37 would add song to that list, and give the program $1 million out of the state’s general fund to continue for another two years.

The bill passed the House, but without that price tag.

Sen. Keith Regier R-Kalispell, said at a committee hearing in January that tribes could look for other funding sources.

“And I feel that they can be funding what this bill hopes to do in the federal funds that they get,” Regier said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Rocky Boy, disagrees.

“This isn’t a handout, this is a hand up, to give us an opportunity to preserve,” he said.

As written, the program would need to produce things like recordings and reference material.

Any tangible goods that come out of the program would need to be submitted to the Montana Historical Society within a year of production.

After being amended to include the general fund money, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. It will be heard there Thursday.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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