Spanish may be the most common language spoken by English-language learners in the United States overall, but in South Dakota, top status goes to Lakota. And in Montana, the top language for students with limited proficiency in English is Blackfoot, with Crow and Dakota as runners up. In Alaska, it’s Yup’ik. These facts are evidence of the significant number of Native American or Alaska Native students who are identified as English-language learners in this country. (You can also find state-by-state data on the languages of ELLs here.)
If that piques your interest, you may want to read my article, “Native American History, Culture Gaining Traction in State Curricula,” which was just posted at edweek.org. And a good place to view some of the curricular materials about Native Americans that have been created is the Indian Education section of the Web site of the Montana Department of Public Instruction.
OK, I’ve said this before on this blog, but whenever I’ve taken the time to look at the DVDs or other materials developed to teach about the nation’s tribes, I’ve asked the question, “Why didn’t I learn more about Native Americans in school?” If you’re an educator, you may have the power to prevent some student of yours from asking that question years from now.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.