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OST DEMANDS OBAMA QUICKLY SUPPLY FUNDING FOR LANGUAGE EDUCATION

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PINE RIDGE — Oglala Tribal President Bryan Brewer has demanded that President Barack Obama immediately fulfill his campaign promise to push forward Indian education and immersion language strategies.

In a recent letter to President Obama, Brewer exhorted the White House take action without delay.

"We 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 BIA federal school system, tribally chartered schools and public schools operating in Indian country.”

President Brewer suggested that Obama did not have to wait for Republicans to get around to passing a bill to appropriate funds, but redirect existing and contingency funding. Obama is considered by many tribes to be a friend to Indian country in personal understanding, more so than previous presidents.

“Existing authority and 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," Brewer wrote.

Brewer’s strongly worded letter is the toughest sent by a sitting Oglala president to the White House in the tribe’s current memory.

President Brewer, a former educator, declared a state of emergency on language reservation-wide shortly after he was elected to office. He said he would like to see Lakota part of everyday life for his people. Obama wants to restrict education to certain models, fearing Republican success in reducing federal spending across the board, Brewer said.

"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.

Brewer said Lakota language in native schools should be a total experience, where students are obliged to speak their language from the moment they enter the school building to the moment classes recess for the day.

"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," he said.

In keeping with campaign promises since assuming the presidency, Brewer has aggressively taken on controversial issues in such areas as veterans funding, education, and liquor sales in Whiteclay, Nebr., near the reservation border.

President Brewer has also said elected officials should be reminded that for most their time in office ends at the ballot box, especially if they ran hoping to bring needed change to the reservation.

“We have got to act now,” he said.

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