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Chief Standing Bear visits with Rep. Frank Lucas about the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act

By

Benny Polacca

U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas visited with Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and his administration during an Aug. 9 visit to Pawhuska.

At the start of the meeting, a group of Osage language immersion school students came to the Chief’s office and sang a song in the Osage language for Lucas (R-Okla.), with his staff members and ON officials present. Everyone applauded the students who then shook hands with Lucas before leaving with their teachers.

Afterward, Standing Bear, along with other Executive Branch officials including Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, discussed a few topics with Lucas, including reauthorizing the Native American Languages Act. Lucas was visiting several regional cities that day to hold town hall meetings with constituents.

Standing Bear said the Nation is interested in seeking other funding sources to fund the Nation’s immersion school program to help offset tribal revenue spending for government operations, which comes from the seven-Osage Casino Gaming Enterprise.

Also joining the conversation was Cameron Pratt, who has worked as an Osage language instructor and on other language preservation efforts over the years. “Currently, funding to get this immersion school going is very crucial, we need to get the infrastructure going as far as personnel and staff and give them training in the language,” Pratt said.

“I assume there’s a strong interest among (Osage) members that this be available,” Lucas asked the group. The group said yes and Standing Bear spoke about challenges in funding the immersion program, including hiring qualified teachers who would commit to relocation to the Nation for the jobs.

Standing Bear said the immersion school started its second year with a kindergarten class. Enrollment is up to 28 students this year from 18 in 2015, he said.

“We need teachers, we have the students, we have the need … anything we can get would help,” Standing Bear said, who also asked Lucas if there’s any help the Nation could offer to help reauthorize the Native American Languages Act.

Lucas represents Oklahoma Congressional District No. 3, which covers the western portions of the state, including Osage County. He told Standing Bear that he would visit with fellow Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole when he returns to Washington, D.C. after Labor Day regarding plans for reauthorizing the bill. Cole (Chickasaw Nation), who represents Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional district, is a co-sponsor for the bill. Lucas also applauded the Nation’s language preservation efforts.

Standing Bear expressed thanks for Lucas’s plans. Afterward, Lucas was presented with an Osage Nation Code Talker commemoration coin that is a replica of a gold-plated original. Special Advisor to the Chief, Johnny Williams, presented the coin. Williams is a Vietnam combat veteran who was a medic with the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets).

According to the U.S. Congressional website, a Native American Languages Reauthorization Act, if passed, would amend the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to reauthorize funding opportunities to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages.


Original Publish Date: 2016-08-17 00:00:00

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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