'Til Death Do Us Part: Analyzing the Relationship Between Native American Languages, Bilingual Education and Tribal Sovereignty

Native American communities are battling for the survival of their languages. While many of those languages have benefited greatly from revitalization programs in recent years, their survival is by no means guaranteed. Contemporary attacks on bilingual education programming intensify the threat; many Native American language revitalization efforts rely on bilingual methods, which may soon be forbidden in the public schools of various states. Through analysis of American Indian policy, education, and languages as well as the much-debated subject of bilingual education, this paper shows that attacks on bilingual education do more than just threaten linguistic rights: They endanger the basic and long-fought-for right of self-rule. The paper then concludes with an examination of some of the options for tribes in asserting the basic right to linguistic self-determination.


Lisa Williams


Teresa McCarty





Arizona State Museum: 

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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences