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Native Americans oppose Oklahoma English-only law

[JURIST] Several Native American groups are voicing opposition to a proposed Oklahoma [JURIST news archive] law that would require all official state business be conducted in English on the grounds, arguing it would stifle efforts to revive tribal languages. As drafted, the Oklahoma English Language Act [HB 1423 text, DOC] contains exceptions including "teaching or studying other languages," protecting the rights of criminal defendants and victims, "protecting the health, safety, or liberty of any citizen," and for complying with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [text, PDF]. The law is now before the Oklahoma state legislature [official website].

The Intertribal Wordpath Society [advocacy website], based in Norman, Oklahoma, has said that while only 9,000 people are fluent in Cherokee and 4,000 are fluent in Choctaw [tribal websites], the two main tribal languages spoken in Oklahoma, the law is unnecessary and divisive. AP has more.

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