Our Year-In-Review continues with a look at the events we were involved in presenting or attending.
Lakota Summer Institute
The Lakota Summer Institute was an amazing event in 2014. Attendance just keeps growing – with both teachers and non-teachers, participants of all ages. This three-week immersion in Lakota culture is widely known as a “boot camp” for language study, but now it embraces a wide range of workshop experiences that go beyond the classroom, connecting to other ways the language comes alive.
The loud success of Iktómi Wičhítegleǧa Siŋté Waŋ Úŋ (Iktomi’s Raccoon Hat) at the 2012 LSI prompted LLC to adapt two more Iktomi tales for a short Lakota-language play in 2014.
Iktómi Lečhála Tȟawíčutȟuŋ (Iktomi’s New Wife) combines the tales “Iktomi and the Ignorant Girl” and “Iktomi’s Blanket.” We engaged Steve Elm (Oneida) as the director and teacher of this course. Steve is a polished theater pro from New York City who has worked with renowned Native American theater companies and artists, writing, directing and performing in original works. His work helping school kids create their own emotionally powerful theater pieces – and training teachers on how to use theater skills in their classrooms – made him a wonderful director for Iktómi Lečhála Tȟawíčutȟuŋ.
MHA & Crow
Two other Native American nations began their Summer Institutes during LSI this year, bringing four more languages to Sitting Bull College. The Crow returned from Montana, and the MHA Nation sent teachers of Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara down from their lands in northwestern North Dakota.
Each of these Nations has begun their own coordinated language revitalization effort, inspired by the Lakota model. Crow language teachers came to LSI in 2013 for an introduction to Total Physical Response teaching methods, applied to their new Level 1 textbook.
POTUS and Posse
In the second weekend of LSI, a mountain of excitement fell on us all. President Obama and the First Lady showed up at the Standing Rock Powwow in Cannonball, ND on Friday, June 13. It was huge. We’ll leave it at that.
Then on Sunday, a team from the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education arrived, with the Secretary of the Interior alongside, to meet with Lakota speakers, teachers and officials about Lakota language education. This was the first of a series of field visits the team is making to tribes around the country, getting input on how learning the Native languages can improve Native education results.
Can you feel the glow of validation? We’re still fanning ourselves.
Lakota-Dakota Language Summit
The annual Lakota-Dakota Language Summit put on by Tusweca Tiospaye pumped it up this year by aligning with the Black Hills Powwow. That was a lot of energy in Rapid City’s Rushmore Plaza Convention Center and Holiday Inn! It was a perfect moment to unveil the new LLC tee-shirt slogan:
Language Warriors were everywhere – from Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills to the determined folks who signed up for a two-day Lakota Language Intensive course taught by Sunshine Carlow and Nacole Walker of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Education Department.
At the Summit’s end, LLC was proud to honor its affiliated schools in a ceremony, awarding trophies for improvement and achievement in language learning.