The Impact of Immigration on Bilingualism among Indigenous American Peoples

By Ahler, Janet Goldenstein | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

The Impact of Immigration on Bilingualism among Indigenous American Peoples


Ahler, Janet Goldenstein, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Abstract

Early federal government policies for American indigenous people alternated between extermination and assimilation. Imposing the colonists' and immigrants' language on indigenous people was important for achieving the latter. In the 1970-90's, federally funded grants for bilingual education for indigenous schools were offered to accommodate Native American pressures to reverse the tragic results of those former policies. The stated bilingual goals were to teach them Standard English and to revitalize indigenous languages. Many of these Native American students speak "Indian English" (W. Leap, 1993), a dialect resulting from sociolinguistic interference (see theory, D. Hymes, 1971). Few know any of their Native language. The "Indian English" dialect is ignored, even denigrated as a substandard communication form in these programs. This paper's purpose is to trace the evolution of bilingual education programs and their impact on Native American bilingualism and language revitalization for selected communities in the Northern Plains. Thirty years of evaluating these programs with ethnographic methods have resulted in these conclusions: 1) the local English dialect must be recognized as viable for Standard English to be acquired, 2) indigenous language revitalization requires infinitely more effort than what was provided, and 3) the government's covert goal remained assimilationist, not truly bilingual.

Introduction

Unlike the immigrant to a new country who faces learning the dominant language of that country and potentially becoming bilingual, the indigenous people (1) of America have faced the imposition of the language of the initial immigrants to their lands. Throughout the early centuries of the immigrant expansion there was a vacillation in the federal government policies between assimilation and extermination of indigenous peoples. In the 1970's-1990's there was a feeble U. S. government attempt to accommodate pressures from indigenous people to reverse the tragic results of those former policies and to revitalize their traditional cultures and languages. This accommodation was manifested in federally funded grants for bilingual education programs for indigenous community schools. The purpose of this paper is to trace the evolution of the "bilingual education" programs and their impact on Native American bilingualism and Native language revitalization for selected Native American communities in the Northern Plains. This examination is limited to those Native American communities where the researcher has conducted evaluation research for the past thirty and more years.

Relationships between the U. S. Government and Native Americans

The relationship between the European-influenced U. S. Federal Government and the indigenous people of America has always been and remains unique. From the initial colonization and immigration, Europeans regarded the indigenous people as less than human, their cultures less than civilized, and at best, their many oral languages as simplistic. The federal government policies toward them began oppressively by removing them farther and farther westward or when they resisted this removal, the policy favored removal from the face of the earth, extermination.

In the later part of the 19th century, the federal government offered the remaining indigenous people treaties that included tracts of land (reservations), educational inducements/requirements, and some health provisions. These treaties and the fact that in 1924 the U. S. Congress conveyed U. S. citizenship on Native Americans (Reyhner, J. and J. Eder, 2004, p. 84) constitute a perpetual paradox for Native American status and identity. On the one hand, they are members of sovereign nations recognized by treaty, and they are also U. S. citizens with all rights and privileges. Unfortunately, there have been many and unrelenting U.S. government attempts and successes through time at abrogating all or parts of some of those treaties. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Impact of Immigration on Bilingualism among Indigenous American Peoples
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.