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Rep questions money for Indian languages; cut in sex-offender monitoring

Gov. Jim Doyle says Wisconsin is in danger of losing a part of its heritage.

And that's why he put a $0.25 million in his proposed state budget to revive a program which helps Indian tribes preserve their native languages.

Not even 1 percent of Wisconsin's tribal members can speak the state's five native languages.

Menominee chairwoman Lisa Waukau says her tribe only has 15 people who speak a language that's spoken nowhere else in the world.

Some critics are raising eyebrows - especially with a state deficit of almost $6 billion.

Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, says the Indian language program is worthwhile, but it's more important to pay for things Doyle cut, like 24-hour monitoring of sex offenders.

The governor says $250,000 is a small price to preserve a heritage that could otherwise be lost forever.

He wants to use some of the state's share of Indian casino profits to provide competitive grants to schools where teachers and tribal members can work together to teach students the native languages.

A similar program began in 1980, but Republicans who ran the Legislature dropped it six years ago.