Friday, July 11, 2014

Native American Loss of Language

The article I am responding to related to the preservation of North American Native languages. According to the article, up to 55 Native languages disappeared in North America due to decades of racist and discriminatory policies toward the Native people. The author never used the words "human rights," but I assume he would consider these alleged racist and discriminatory policies to be a human rights violation because they imply that our language or culture is superior to the Natives'. I agree that our policies promote our language and culture over the Natives'; we only teach history through a European perspective, and barely teach anything about Native American culture.
   But I disagree with the assertion that the Natives' loss of language is a bad thing or the North American governments encouragement of assimilation is racist or discriminatory. Language is  a barrier and Native American people live in the same nation as the dominant cultures surrounding them. In order for Natives to function in North American societies, they have to learn English or else they will be limited to subsistence farming, horrible manual labor jobs or they can choose to be complacent with the very modest welfare checks North American governments give to Natives. If you do not speak English, you do not even have the skills to be a cashier at McDonald's. It is unfortunate, but it is a reality and because of it North American governments are justified in promoting English to all peoples living under their jurisdictions. The promotion of English and use of it by Natives will, unfortunately for some, cause Native languages to disappear because Natives have less reason to use them.
   However, the assimilation of Native Americans, and resulting loss of language, can be viewed in a very positive light. I gives Natives the opportunity to get an education and well paying jobs which most would appreciate. Universities and employers are more likely to accept and hire Native Americans than other demographics. I believe that collectively North American societies want to see Native Americans succeed.
    English is a must-know in North American societies, and because of this governments encourage Natives to learn it. The collateral in this is that many Native languages are lost and forgotten which upsets some people, but North American governments are still justified in promoting English because it not only gives Native Americans a chance at survival, but it gives them a myriad of opportunities to succeed in their societies.

No comments:

Post a Comment