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Idaho district to offer Shoshoni classes

BLACKFOOT — A southeastern Idaho school district has decided to offer classes in Shoshoni language and culture.

The Blackfoot School District's governing board met Thursday and said the courses will be offered at Blackfoot High School during the upcoming school year. The classes are part of efforts to preserve the Shoshoni language among youths, board member Peter Lipovac said.

"The Shoshoni classes are the result of a statewide push to help save Shoshoni language and culture in the state," Lipovac told the Idaho State Journal.

Tribe members petitioned early this year to build a Shoshoni charter school for students in kindergarten through sixth grades, but that effort failed to gain traction in Bingham and Bannock counties, where the Blackfoot and Pocatello school districts declined to provide funding.

Charter schools are funded with public money, but are given more freedom in how they operate and often have a particular focus.

"Our decision to implement the classes isn't the direct result of the Shoshoni charter school failing to get approved here," Lipovac said.

The proposal to build a Shoshoni charter school in Fort Hall is still alive.

Proposed charter schools can seek approval through their local school districts, or through Idaho's Public Charter School Commission, which falls under the state Board of Education. That's where tribal members have taken their petition.

State officials are expected to reach a decision by the end of September.

The Shoshoni language offered at Blackfoot High School will not be as concentrated at those proposed at the Fort Hall charter school, Lipovac said.

— Associated Press