- Parent Category: Culture, Education & Sports
- Category: Native Language
- Published: 17 February 2009
By Terry Woster
Pierre, South Dakota (AP) 2-09
A proposal to let voters decide if South Dakotas constitution should declare English the states official language, died in the Senate.
Senators voted 20-14 on Feb. 12 to kill SJR2, which proposed a constitutional amendment making English the states official language. If the provision were in the constitution, no state or local government could adopt a law, ordinance or rule that required the use of any language but English.
I think we all realize America is a melting pot of diversity, Rhoden said.
He said lawmakers wouldnt be making a decision by passing his resolution, simply giving voters a chance to make that decision.
Sen. Ben Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion, said that changing the constitution as proposed would be unnecessary. State law already makes English the states common language, he said.
This is beyond me that this is in front of me, Nesselhuf said.
The amendment wouldnt prevent anyone from speaking any language they wished, Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said. It would simply make sure they had the ability to communicate in English, he said.
The proposed amendment included a provision that said nothing could restrict the use of the Lakota, Dakota or Nakota language by American Indians.
That failed to impress Sen. Jim Bradford, R-Pine Ridge.
By the way, that melting pot youre talking about, you wouldnt have a pot if it werent for the Native Americans, Bradford said.
Rhoden said the way the amendment was worded, Native American languages would be protected and could be strengthened.
Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry, D-Watertown, said the amendment could affect a governing bodys ability to adopt a rule allowing sign language, or a courts ability to adopt rules for foreign language for some defendants.
Do you really know what youre doing if you amend the constitution as youve been asked to do? Turbak Berry asked.