CITYOglala Sioux Tribal President and longtime educator Bryan
Brewer has called upon the Obama administration to fulfill its campaign
promise to support Native American education and language revitalization.
In a letter to Jodi Gillete (Lakota) senior policy advisor for
Native American affairs to President Obama, President Brewer implored
the White House to take action.
"We (Oglala Sioux Tribe) are requesting support from the Obama
Administration in ensuring that both appropriations and policies
are advanced that will make real the promise of White House support
for immersion schools in both the Bureau of Indian Affairs federal
school system, tribally chartered schools and public schools operating
in Indian country" said Brewer in the letter. "Existing authority/statutes
allow for the Administration to request dedicated appropriations
for immersion instruction in BIE schools as well as public schools.
Sadly the Administration has yet in its life requested dedicated
resources from the Interior and LHHS Appropriators for these schools,"
The letter from President Brewer is considered to be the strongest
letter in recent memory from an executive member of the Oglala Sioux
Tribe to a sitting US president.
In his first few weeks of office President Brewer declared a
state of emergency on the status of the Lakota language, and announced
an initiative to help revitalize and integrate it back in to the
everyday lives of people living on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.
"The Administration is moving with great force to restrict Bureau
funded schools to Adequate Yearly Progress models that are based
on Common Core Standards designed by States. While this is a laudable
goal great care must be taken to create room for tribal innovations
that include heritage language immersion schools and instruction,"
Brewer said in the letter. "We do not consider the teaching of Lakota
or any other Native language for 30 minutes a day or periodically
throughout a school week to be consistent with the "promise" of
opportunity to learn Native languages," Brewer added.
Over the first few months in office President Brewer has quickly
established himself as a strong advocate for causes that have been
ignored by past administrations. He has recently taken to the streets
to protest liquor sales in White Clay, addressed issues dealing
with veteran affairs, and has taken on a number of other tough issues
that he promised to work on during his campaign.
"It is important that we hold the Federal government accountable
for their treaty and trust responsibilities," he told Native Sun
News. "This letter is just one small part of what we are doing to
attempt to revitalize our language. We must act now," he added.