Revitalizing the Lakota Language

At its core, language is a basic vehicle for communication used by a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition…and in the case of Native languages, its (more than likely) all of the above.

Lakota's oral tradition
But, in the context of a Native language, like Lakota, a language has survived for thousands of years by way of oral tradition (it only recently became a codified or written language within the last century) brings with it more than just a mere tool for communicating in the present tense.

History reveals this amazing language was carefully and purposefully passed to the next generation through the prayers, stories, and songs told by the generations before, and each time it was passed, it brought with it a special gift that not only gave people the ability to express themselves in spoken word, but it also preserved the culture, history, philosophy, and beliefs of the people.

The beauty of the Lakota language

"Native languages are all linguistically and semantically unique. A great many ideas can only be accurately expressed in one language and not another, and this is very much the case with Lakota.

Lakota is unique from languages like English because of the intimate way it is tied to the pre-reservation world. This world was closely associated with living in small groups, living close to nature, traveling a good deal across large areas, and having a rich spiritual life.

The language also closely linked the land to the people through geographical names and stories". - Lakota Language Consortium

Lakota in modern times
Today, the Lakota language is dangerously close to extinction, as many Lakota children are predominantly English speakers and the population of native speakers continues to grow older.

But, there is also a growing enthusiasm by Lakota educators to revive the language and preserve the identity of their culture by adopting modern technologies, utilizing the knowledge of elders, and creating a network of resources to encourage younger generations to not only learn the language, but use it and maintain it (as many of my Lakota-speaking friends truly speak the language, it needs to be used outside the classroom and become part of one's life).

Lakota Language Consortium: The Lakota Language Consortium is one of the foremost Native American language organizations in the US. This nonprofit organization is made up of Native community leaders, linguists and volunteers, and its primary mission is the complete revitalization of the Lakota language.

Tusweca Tiospaye: Tusweca Tiospaye is a Native non-profit organization is dedicated to the promotion and strengthening of the Lakota language by developing a strong, healthy, and prosperous environment in which Lakota children and their families can learn and incorporate the Lakota language into their daily lives.

Educational Materials