Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the US, so I had a long phone call with my mom. She told me that she and my dad are planning to take a vacation soon the the Black Hills of South Dakota, and we talked for a long time about that land, the people who live there, the language(s) they speak, and the head-scratching irony of naming a state park after General Custer (seriously…)
The Lakota language, like almost all Native American languages, is classified as “threatened,” and the speaking population continues to decrease as members of older generations pass on. But organization like the Lakota Language Consortium are working hard to reach younger speakers and encourage the preservation and revitalization of their language. And dedicated teachers in the elementary and secondary schools on reservations like Pine Ridge teach the language to their students. Here is one such teacher, Roger White Eyes, speaking Lakota and talking about the importance of teaching the language:
I’ve blogged before about one of the projects the Lakota tribe is using – this delightful all-Lakota version of the Berenstein Bears. I’ve also written about the difference between the terms Lak(h)ota, Nakota, and Dakota.
Roger White Eyes says, “This language has a spirit.” Maybe before their trip, my parents can visit the Lakota Language Forum to learn some greetings! Getting a taste of the language is sure to help them understand the spirit of that part of the Great Plains.
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