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Essentially, what the governor has done is strengthen the hand of tribes without federal recognition to exercise rights in a way that is similar to those with federal recognition. For this reason, it is prudent to investigate possible funding from these other sources.
The General Situation
The language situation of Native American Indians in North America in general and California in particular is not good at the present time. Native American language groups are dying out. The goal of bilingual programs is binary in nature. Besides promoting the proficiency of English for those who do not speak it as a native language, there is an ancillary responsibility to preserve the Native languages themselves (Pewewardy, and Hammer, 1). According to the data listed in Census 2000, 4.3 million people, or 1.5% of the total U.S. population, reported that they were American Indian and Alaska Native ("U.S. Census Bureau"). The total population of tribes in the state is 333,511. This is divided up among 142 tribes, including groups that are federally recognized as well as those that lack federal recognition ("Hanksville"). Obviously, providing funding for more than 300,000 people to have bilingual education in their communities is a tall order in either good or (Crawford 17-38).
The Other Side of the Issue
Other Minority Groups
The Governor has tasked us to investigate what might happen in the case of other minority groups in California demanding (more/some) bilingual education. Also, we were tasked to provide policy guidance in the event of pro-English only groups that may argue that the government funding of bilingual education goes against Prop 227. We have dealt with this issue extensively by searching outside of the state treasury for the funding. Both of these issues are addressed organically with regard to tribal groups such as the Hicama because they are federally recognized tribes. Since the Governor's executive order has strengthened the status of the non-federally recognized tribes, the state government can authorize the raising of tax funds from gaming, at least on tribal lands.
The committee would like to indicate in brief that there are no similarities whatsoever between the Ebonics initiative and providing bilingual education for Native American Indians. They are so different in nature that Governor Brown will not risk any public outcry by promoting bilingual education of Native Americans. Would there be any chance that public might connect Native American bilingual education with 'bilingual education' for African-Americans and engage in the same level of heated public debate as in 1998, when the Oakland proposal was first made? For this committee, it seems sufficient to make the assumption that if Jesse Jackson did not foresee a problem, we will not have one. In a New York Times article "I understand the attempt to reach out to these children, but this is an unacceptable surrender, borderlining on disgrace...It's teaching down to our children (Lewis)."
The "finesse" that will be needed is in case the efforts to finance bilingual education from tax levies on industries such as gaming on or off of lands of tribes that are not federally recognized. It is precisely this type of funding which is the weakest in our assemblage of funding options. As the Enterprise Rancheria Indian group's efforts to bring casino gambling off of the reservation grounds has met opposition in Wheatland, it will probably happen in other communities as well (Appeal Democrat). It will be necessary in such a contingency for the Governor to use his status with Native American tribes in the state to limit the tax levies to the South Mojave Reservation and to the oil drilling industry.
Bilingual education inevitably involves teaching an academic content in two languages. While most people think of immigrants learning the English language, the fact that Native Americans are many times raised with speaking English as their native language is rarely considered by policy makers. However, the same issues that face bilingual education in other sectors is active here as well. Advocates for such programs in the Native American communities in California have found in the engine for their programs in the oil resources that are to found in tribal territories.
In this advisory report, we will report on our findings to Governor Jerry Brown for and against the project. Surprisingly for many of us, there is information on both sides of the issue to indicate whether or not such efforts would bear fruit. While Structured English Immersion is the law of the land in California, the tribal lands enjoy sovereignty. This status has been strengthened recently by the governor's office. The issue is one of coordination as opposed to sovereignty, that is how much state support the state of California will give to bilingual efforts in the state of California given its English immersion policy in California schools.
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