NOVEMBER 09, 2006
The president of the nation’s largest Indian tribe claims that a new law making English the official language in one of his tribe’s southwestern states is equivalent to genocide.
Fed up with paying to translate official government documents for illegal immigrants, Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 103 to make English the official state language. This will represent a huge savings for taxpayers who for years have funded translators and materials for those who don’t speak English when dealing with the government.
The president of the Navajo Nation says making English the official language of an American state is the same as committing genocide. With nearly 300,000 members the Navajos live on 27,000 miles that span across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. By treaty, they are a sovereign nation with their own government and laws but their schools and social programs are mainly funded by the United States Government.
Yet speaking English is offensive and, according to Navajo President Joe Shirley, it could wipe out his tribe. He actually said: “If that’s not genocide, I don’t know what is. We have our language, we have our color, we have our culture, our way of life, and we need help to preserve and protect that.”
The new law doesn’t prevent citizens from speaking their native language. It simply makes English the official language when it comes to government business and forces those can’t speak it to finance their own translator. Arizona is actually the 28th state in the nation to adopt such a law.
It wasn’t long ago that leaders of another large Indian tribe expressed an equally severe reaction to a law aimed at curbing illegal immigration. At a Border Summit meeting last month, leaders of the Tohono O’odham Indian tribe, located along the Arizona-Mexico border, said a fence would be equal to “psychological oppression and terrorism“
The tribe has 2.8 million acres on the Arizona border and some of it spans into the northern Mexican state of Sonora.
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