Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger

I write this letter to ask for your support and signature for California Assembly Bill no. 544 (Coto): Teaching Credential: American Indian Languages.

Across California, there are stories of young tribal members who decades ago were punished for speaking their native language. California tribes are working hard to reverse this loss of native languages with after-school programs, as a foreign language alternative, but this is not enough. Native languages need to be taught as part of the school curriculum. To do this we need certified Native American language teachers.

Every day that we delay the certifying of teachers who speak Native American languages, we lose tribal elders who are fluent speakers. These elders do not have the time to go back to school, yet their proficiency in their own Native language is undeniable.

AB 544 allows California tribes to evaluate the speakers of their native languages and obtain for them a single subject teaching credential. This would promote native languages throughout California.

We therefore respectfully ask for your support for AB 544.

– Julie McIntosh

Tribal Administrator

Mooretown Rancheria

Oroville, Calif.