Effort begins to save Indian languages

American Indian leaders fear their native languages are being lost, calling the situation a crisis.

"When a person passes away, it is like a whole dictionary that is gone," Lillian Rice told a Minnesota House committee.

A Native American’s language, she added, "is the very sense of who we are. … Without that, we are lost."

Indian leaders are working to save languages, and now the Minnesota Legislature is considering helping the cause. Bills to establish a state-tribal organization to look into the issue are being considered, along with providing $150,000 to help the cause.

The group would work with the state’s 11 tribes to help preserve the Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Dakota (Sioux) languages.

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