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Oklahoma tribal leaders oppose bill removing world languages as graduation requirement

Graduate of Sequoyah Indian High school shakes Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner's hand.
Cherokee Nation
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Graduate of Sequoyah Indian High school shakes Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner's hand.

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed changes to high school requirements to learn a second language. But the state's tribal leaders are hoping Gov. Kevin Stitt won't sign on.

According to information released by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, more than 3,000 public school students participate in Indigenous language curriculums.

But House Bill 3278 would end requirements for students to take a second language.

Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. wrote in a statement that the bill would be detrimental to language restoration efforts. Muscogee Nation Chief David Hill said it would be a “massive step backwards.”

Liam McAlpin is studying at Northeastern State with plans to teach the Cherokee language. He says he doesn’t believe legislators understand the impact these courses make.

“It’s not just learning a language, it’s learning culture, it’s learning ways of thinking. It’s broadening your horizons,” McAlpin said.

The bill was passed in both the House and Senate and now awaits Stitt’s thumbs up or thumbs down.

Katie Hallum covers Indigenous Affairs at KOSU.