2009

2009: The Year in News

  • 2009 Summit



    2009Winners-teachers

    Honorees: Dewey Bad Warrior, Harry Little Thunder, Darlene Red Bear, Terri Smith,
    Gabe Black Moon, and Emanuel Red Bear. (Not pictured Mannie Iron Hawk)



    Information on Level 2 Post-testing from an interview of Karen Little Wounded conducted by LLC Communications Associate, Tomas Beauchamp.

    TB: Karen, you recently completed the post-testing process of the Lakota Language Level 2 Textbook. This marks the second full year of pre-and post-testing. Tell me about the schools.

    KLW: Testing is a lot of work but I find it very satisfying. I always learn something and it makes me feel good to help schools improve their Lakota Language Program,
    This school year grades K-12 at thirty-four schools, including alternative schools, participated in the post-testing process using Levels 1 and 2 testing tools. I was unable to test the full student population at some schools due to end of the school year activities and graduations.
    In between the testing, my time was spent visiting not only the participating schools but other schools to discuss establishing the LLC Lakota language program. It was encouraging to find a great amount of interest in starting a Lakota Language Program with these new schools.
    In the mean time, the participating schools strived to improve their pre-test averages through more interactive class room activities like games, use of the flashcards, the Lakota Font Bundle and the story books with the accompanying audio CD. Collaboration among schools began as administrators and teachers asked me to find available resources and activities used by other schools. An example would be a school wanting to find activities to teach the language through math or sharing of classroom resources.
    One way of indirect collaboration is through the use of the LLC curriculum by so many schools. By doing this, it gives the students who transfer from one school to another, even to another reservation, the opportunity to just slide into their new school’s Lakota Language Program. I found this to be true at a couple of schools where they thought the new students shouldn’t be tested because they transferred in during the school year. When I asked the students what school they came from it was a participating school and I was able to test them.
    As the post-testing began, other state tests were conducted and I was told that these students are tested and tested. So, I thought I would find resistance but when I told the students that it was the Lakota Language Test they were eager to test and are now familiar with the process. They love the fact that it is done on the computer with the headphones and they are willing to share with each other their scores. As always, students want to take it more than once.

    TB: I’m looking at the graphs and charts of the post test score results. In general, it looks like progress is being made. How much progress are you hoping to see?

    KLW: This year some classes met the 40% recommended improvement percentage but as far as the overall school percentage, it didn’t happen. The improvements that were made were great to see; any increase whether it is slight or big means progress.
    Schools that did not make significant improvements may have encountered unforeseen circumstances like no classes due to personnel issues. One teacher was deployed during the school year, one teacher was promoted to another position or maybe they lacked class room resources. There are always issues for schools to deal with and that’s why we try to keep the focus on making progress.

    TB: Tell me about the schools that are making the most improvement. I understand that they will receive awards.
    KLW: Yes, this year we are recognizing schools for achievement in two categories: Best Average (pre & post tests) and Most Improved.
    What’s interesting is that we are seeing a continued presence of Wakpala-Smee and Tiospaye Topa Schools in the Best Average category. Other schools like Roosevelt HS, Rock Creek, and Red Cloud deserve mention and are potential competitors for the Best Average category. In the Most Improved category, C-EB School and Standing Rock Jr. High earned honors.
    Schools that placed at the top of each category will receive plaques at the awards Lakota-Nakota Language Summit and other schools deserving of honorable mention will receive a certificate of achievement.
    In general, good scores reflect the ability of a school to provide an environment conducive to learning. There are always things in the way and testing can help schools identify where the issues are as a first step towards improvement. And, schools that are making the most progress can help other schools through examples of best practices.

    TB: Karen, what are the goals of testing and how can the LLC and schools use the results?

    KLW: The data results are returned to the school to use for their informational purposes; data is presented to the school boards, the tribal education committees and discussed among the appropriate staff at the schools. In addition, this data can benefit the schools for justification for the enhancement of their overall Lakota Language Program or Class and more class room time, class room space, resources and staff.
    Most importantly the data provides the school with the ability to analyze the results and determine not only the program success but student success as well. It provides the accountability schools need and what areas of improvement should be addressed.
    Currently, I’m developing a tool to test the testing process itself. The LLC wants to collect information from school administrators, teachers, and students about their experiences with our testing process and then evaluate our current method to see where we might be able to improve it. Eventually, what we want to put in place is a system for continuous improvement of the testing process and a method for schools to share best practices in establishing and maintaining a strong Lakota Language Program.


    gettingaward

    Harry Little Thunder receives his prize from Karen Little Wounded,
    LLC Educational Coordinator and Sacheen Whitetail Cross, LLC Board Member.



    summitawards

    Honoring for LLC teachers



    KidsatSummit

    Kids checking out the new Level 3 textbook Samples

  • Aloha Lakota! LSI 2009



    2009LSI2

    Participants of the 3rd Annual Lakota Summer Institute (LSI) received the triple benefit of working with the upcoming Level 3 Lakota Language Textbook, the New Lakota Dictionary (which by the way received a bronze medal at the 13th Annual Independent Publishers Book Awards competition), and Pila Wilson, a founding member of the very successful Hawaiian Language Revitalization program.

    The Institute ran from June 1-19 and consisted of 11 courses ranging from Lakota Morphology, Phonetics, Syntax, Methodology, and Conversational classes. A total of 32 teachers representing the Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, and Pine Ridge Reservations, as well as Sioux Falls School, and Colorado and Minnesota schools had the opportunity to get a head start on using the New Lakota Dictionary and forthcoming Level 3 Textbook.

    Sacheen Whitetail Cross, the Education Coordinator for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is a 3-year veteran of LSI. In a recent conversation with Sacheen she lent her perspective on the progress of the program and the teachers:

    So after 3 years—things are beginning to take shape and the teachers have gained a feel for the strategy of the comprehensive curriculum plan, and the 3rd LSI seemed to crystallize training and experience into a shared vision of the value of LSI and a line of sight for future progress.

    Sacheen has had the opportunity to see a lot of progress at LSI. Thomas Beauchamp got to interview was LSI instructor Pila Wilson, co-founder of the Hawaiian Studies Program at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.

    2009LSI4

    Left to Right: Jan Ullrich, Aolani Ka'ilihou, Wil Meya, Pila (Bill) Wilson


    TB: Pila—please, tell me about your background and the Hawaiian Studies Program.

    Pila: I am one of the founding board members of the 'Aha Punana Leo which began Hawaiian language revitalization with language nests in 1984. We then moved the programming through the public school system grade by grade. There are now over 2,000 children enrolled from preschool through grade 12. The children in this system are outperforming other children academically at the same time that they are revitalizing Hawaiian.

    My wife Kauanoe Kamana and I were among the first families involved and our two children graduated through the system. In 1997, the state legislature mandated that the Hawaiian Studies Program where we both work in Hilo, become a Hawaiian language college. Our college provides support for Hawaiian language revitalization through curriculum development, lexicon development, teacher training, and technological services among other things. We serve both immersion and non-immersion schools.

    TB: Your work focuses on the revitalization of the Hawaiian language. What was it like spending a week in North Dakota training teachers to teach Lakota as a second language?

    Pila: Participating with the Lakota teachers was a wonderful experience. The level of participation from a range of different reservations and grade levels impressed me very much.

    It was my first trip to the Dakotas and I was impressed with the beauty of the open land and also the wildlife that I saw. Everyone was extremely friendly and I was very much impressed by the honoring that was accorded my student Ms. Aolani Ka'ilihou and myself. Most of all, I was very happy to be among a group of kindred spirits - people passionate about the survival of their language and determined to succeed.

    TB: This was the 3rd LSI program and the training has progressed from language basics and sounds to comprehension and putting sentences together. Were you able to make any observations on the progress made by returning teachers?

    Pila: While I have absolutely no background in Lakota, my impression from talking to teachers is that they feel that the LSI and the books being developed for them have made it possible for them to make major progress. What impressed me most about the LSI was the large number of native speakers involved and the role that LSI is playing in making them more effective teachers.

    We no longer have the number of traditional native speakers that Lakota has, but when we did in the 1970s, there was nothing of the level of LSI to assist them in their teaching in the English schools. I feel that if something like the LSI were available then, we would have made more progress in spreading Hawaiian to more people. While immersion has had a big effect, it still enrolls only a small fraction of Native Hawaiian children. I am now thinking how we could use some of the ideas of the LSI to affect the teaching of Hawaiian in the English medium schools.

    TB: What do you think are the major strengths of the LSI program and how can LSI increase its impact on schools, teachers and students?

    Pila: The thing that most impressed me was the provision of books for all teachers and then a follow up testing program. This is the foundation of the LSI program. The training gives teachers the background and tools to use the books and prepare the students for the testing. With LSI there is a solid basis for moving everyone forward. You can sense the feeling of progress among participants. I was also very impressed with the new dictionary. I think we could learn from it to create a new dictionary for Hawaiian.

    While I think that LSI is on the right path for the circumstances of Lakota, one area that it might expand is into college teaching of the language for young people who are second language speakers. A great strength here is our college level teaching of Hawaiian, especially in our College of Hawaiian Language here at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Before we began K-12 immersion, we started a B.A. that produced fluent second language teachers who went on for certification. These teachers were also hired in high schools. Our native speakers then taught cultural matters through Hawaiian, which was their strength over the second language teachers.

    TB: In referring to your 20 years of work with the revitalization of the Hawaiian language you made the statement that teacher training is the key to language revitalization. Why is this so? What about the importance of student curricula and pre-and post-testing?

    Pila: Let me expand on that.

    In today's world all Native children are required to attend compulsory education at least into high school. It has been over one hundred years since children were raised in communities in traditional ways isolated from schools.

    If Native languages and cultures are to survive, they must take over contemporary schooling in the same way that the Japanese language and culture took over Western style schooling in Japan. With the Native American Languages Act, the federal government recognizes the right of Native Americans to use their languages in schools and even run schools through those languages. This change in policy is only words, if tribes cannot develop the contemporary human and material resources to integrate their languages and cultures into contemporary schooling.

    The school setting is quite different from the home and community, and requires curricula and testing to gauge progress. Teachers must know both how to fluently use the language and also about the structure of the language so that they can use that background to guide student learning. It's an exciting challenge and I can see parallels between Lakota and Hawaiian in the progress being made to address it.

    TB: Did any part of your experience really stand out?

    Pila: The people were really terrific. I brought a student along to share the experience and then spread information about LSI to our college students here.

    Lakota is in a situation similar to what was happening in Hawai'i thirty years ago. That is there are still many native speakers around and the people are rallying for their language. Our programs are strong in Hawai'i, but, you can't beat the exhilaration of the early days! Aolani was very much touched by the experience. She stayed up late talking to LSI participants and the whole experience opened her eyes to the overall process of language revitalization.

    Both Aolani and I returned with some lovely gifts from the wonderful people that we met at LSI. Those gifts remind us of the aloha of the Lakota people for their language and culture.

    Pila: One last thought…

    I truly appreciate the effort of LSI to make the connection with the 'Aha Punana Leo and Hawaiian Language College at UH-Hilo. I see this as the beginning of an important relationship. If Native American language and cultures are to survive, we must all work together and support each other. I look forward to seeing some of the wonderful people that we met at LSI here in Hilo in the future.


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    2009LSI1
  • LLC Welcomes Two New Board Members!

    Positions on the Board open up periodically and its integrity is of major importance to the LLC and its mission of totally revitalizing the Lakota language. The current Board’s decisions to include Joe Bendickson and Sacheen Whitetail Cross were easy to make. Here’s what Joe and Sacheen have to say about joining the LLC Board.

    JoeBenDixon1
    Joe Bendickson

    Háu mitákuyepi!
    Owás’iŋ čhaŋtéwašteya napé čhiyúzapi dó. Šišókaduta miyé dó. Joe Bendickson emákiyapi dó. Sisíthuŋwaŋ hemátaŋhaŋ k’a héd imáčhaǧe dó. Dakhótia ičháȟmayapi šni tkȟá Dakhótia uŋspémič’ičhiye č’a mičhíŋča kiŋ Dakhótia ičháǧapi kta wačhíŋ dó. Waŋná dé ómakha šahdóǧaŋ kačhéd Dakhótia uŋspémič’ičhiye. Mnisóta Wóuŋspe Waŋkátuya éd wówaši ečhámuŋ. Dakhóta waúŋspewičhakhiya hemáčha. Wóuŋspekhuwa ób Dakhótia wóuŋhdakapi héčhed sdod’íč’iyapi kte. Míš Dakhótia kiŋ wakháŋ k’a Wakháŋ Tháŋka iápi kiŋ uŋk’úpi, hé wičáwada dó. Lakȟól’iyapi Okȟólakičhiye (wašíčuiya ‘Lakota Language Consortium’ eyápi) ówapha wačhíŋ k’a Dakhóta k’a Lakȟóta iápi waš’ágwaye kta wačhíŋ. Móphida tháŋka ečhíčiyapi dó.

    My relatives,
    With a happy heart I shake your hands with you all. I am Šišókaduta (Red Robin). My name is Joe Bendickson. I am from Sisseton and that is where I grew up. I was not raised speaking Dakota but I have been learning Dakota and I would like my children to grow up speaking it. I have been learning Dakota for about eight years. I work at the University of Minnesota. I am a Dakota language teacher. I speak Dakota with the students so that they know who they are. I believe that the Dakota language is sacred and was given to use by Wakháŋ Tháŋka. I would like to join the Lakota Language Consortium and to revitalize the Dakota and Lakota language. Thank you so much.


    sacheen
    Sacheen Whitetail Cross

    When my grandfather passed away I realized how our language is dying with our relatives going on to the spirit world. Afterwards, more than ever, I wanted to push the language programs forward and find out more ways to save our language.

    I still want the language to be a big part of who I am. LLC then invited me to be on its Board of Directors and ask that I still do some of the work that I enjoy, like designing crossword puzzles and conducting “word searches” and other creative things. I was elated! Being on the LLC Board will give me a different perspective on helping to save the Lakota/Dakota Language. I am happy to serve on the LLC Board and continue my involvement in the revitalization of the language and to help me in my efforts to learn the language.

    BIO: I grew up on Standing Rock and my grandparents are both fluent speakers. My mother is not a speaker. I went to school in McLaughlin and was never exposed to learning Lakota in any manner, except through Upward Bound. I then went on to college at the University of North Dakota and took Lakota again but learned the same things as I did through Upward Bound. I received my B.A. in Indian Studies, a B.S in Public Administration, and a M.S. in Educational Leadership.

    After I graduated from UND with my masters I was offered a job as the tribal education manager of the SRST. I noticed that no one was addressing an overwhelming concern of mine: our dying language. So I took it upon myself to start the efforts. I am now at Bismarck State College as the Multicultural Student Services Advisor. I have always wanted to work with native students and help them achieve their educational goals. Without people like this to help me in my life I wouldn't be where I am today. So this is my way of giving back and to help our Indian communities.
  • An Interview of Kim Campbell, member of the LLC textbook team



    L3TextbookTeam

    Members of the Level 3 Textbook Development Team: Wil Meya,
    Kim Campbell, Jan Ullrich, Ben Black Bear (not pictured)



    Approximately 5,000 students attending 35 schools in the Great Plains now have draft units from the Lakota Language Consortium’s Level 3 Textbook in their hands. The Level 3 curriculum makes the transition from earlier levels that focused on language basics and sounds to comprehension and putting sentences together.

    Because Lakota language students are advancing in their abilities to use the language, LLC Textbooks now include the use of story boards-- a sequence of panels that illustrate situations and action. Using storyboards will help students to intuit the conversation and written language and improve overall comprehension.

    Not only is the content of LLC Textbooks evolving so is the team of language and education experts that create them. Over the past several months Dr. Kim Campbell began working as part of the team developing the Speak Lakota! Textbook series. Dr. Campbell is from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University and has many years experience working with archaic classical languages and literature, developing language textbooks, and teaching teachers of foreign languages.

    In a written interview with Tomas Beauchamp, LLC Communications Associate, Dr. Campbell shares her passion for keeping languages alive and why she became part of the LLC Textbook team.


    TB: Dr. Campbell, your expertise is in Romance languages and literature—how did you get interested in the Lakota language?

    KC: My expertise is in Romance Languages and Literatures, but I come to the work of language teaching primarily from the point of view of a philologist. My research specialization for many years has been the languages (and literatures) of the twelfth century primarily. These languages are not "French" in fact. I work on Old French, specifically, Anglo-Norman, Picard, Lorrain, Poitevin, Francien, Franco-Italien, some old Provençal and Catalán. My most recent publication (forthcoming) is about the French of England, and the ways in which the terms "Franci" and "Angli" are used to define (and redefine) "Frenchness."
    None of these languages are spoken anymore; very few people read them. Fewer still can pronounce them at all -- they don't sound like each other, and they don't sound like modern French either. I have been teaching them for a long time, because many very important stories are told in those old, almost forgotten languages. If the languages are no longer taught, then those stories will be lost; the sense of a people, from the earliest times, would be lost with the stories. So I think it is very important to keep the knowledge of the language alive, and with it, the knowledge of the way of thinking, believing and living in the world that it very different from what it is today.
    I have also spent many years teaching teachers of foreign languages. For the last twenty years, it has been my job (and my mission and passion) to work with people who are just beginning their language-teaching careers, although I have also worked with many teachers who have been teaching for many years, through NYU's and Harvard's Schools of Education. I have spent many, many hours thinking and talking about what works in a language class. For me, language, in the larger sense that implies a way of seeing, living and expressing the world, is the most important thing we can teach.
    So part of my interest is intellectual: the challenges and questions facing many of the indigenous languages of this continent are similar to questions that arise when working with the medieval languages, and remind me often of the Renaissance -- the period when French was being standardized, and vocabulary words were being discussed, and even invented, for new technologies and concepts. It is for me intriguing to see this "on the ground," with a living language -- to listen to discussions about how (and even to what extent) Lakota should be standardized or made to be in sync with events and things in the world. It brings to life what has always been for me a passionate discussion about the purposes and shape of languages.
    Why Lakota? Over the years, I have noticed that most students of language -- other than those in required courses -- have a personal interest as well as an intellectual one. So many of my students in French or Spanish classes cite a loved one, a good friend, a mentor for whom or because of whom they are studying the language. Without recounting the story of my life, let me say that my case is no different, and friends and loved ones -- not the least of whom is my late husband Charlie -- have also inspired me in this direction.

    TB: Please explain how you are helping us to develop our Textbooks.

    KC: I am currently a beginning student of Lakota, so perhaps it may seem odd that I would be assisting a team working on a textbook to teach that language. However, many years of writing or helping to write exercises for many, many languages, from French and Spanish to Ojibwe, Thai, Celtic, Russian, Hebrew and Japanese, not to mention the medieval languages, have given me a solid experience in techniques of language teaching, which I hope I am putting to good use for the Level 3 Lakota textbook.
    Some of the activities I have worked on are story lines for the initial comic strip chapter introduction, as well as stories for longer readings later in the chapters. I have brainstormed extensively with other members of the team regarding grammar and vocabulary activities, and last, I am writing, in Lakota, some review exercises for chapters. And, if I may say so, I am as proud as any of our third graders might be when Jan tells me my spelling is improving!

    TB: What about this work have you found the most interesting?

    KC: For me, the most interesting part of this work is indeed the thinking, talking and reflecting that goes on in the team and in the community about what language is, and the ways in which language itself shapes the world. Gender markings, for example, are something that often sparks passionate discussion, especially in terms of what this means for women in the world today.
    Gender marking exists in French as well; for example, my students are often surprised, even jolted, by the fact that in French, the word for "woman" is the same as the word for "wife." In terms of this Lakota textbook, members of the team and of the community have thought, reflected and debated long and often about how gender could or should be represented, not only in language, but in images as well. I am similarly intrigued by the ways in which the Lakota language frames other aspects of life -- the way time frames are expressed is quite different from the languages I know, and yet sometimes, interesting parallels emerge. For example, the expression of digital time, with its precise metering of minutes and seconds, was something of a quandary -- and yet, while we were discussing this as regards Lakota, I was put in mind of medieval French, which had no need for minutes or even for hours, but rather measured time by the rhythm of Catholic masses instead. To give a last example, as a student of languages in their history, I am always fascinated by etymologies. Lakota is a captivating language in this respect -- the beautiful rendering of "horse" in Lakota a case in point.
  • New Lakota Dictionary Takes Bronze



    NLDaward

    In June 2009, the Lakota Language Consortium’s (LLC) New Lakota Dictionary received the Bronze medal in the “Reference” category of the 13th Annual Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY) competition . The competition, hosted by the Independent Book Publishers Association , recognizes excellence in independent publishing. “This is great news,” said Wil Meya, Executive Director of the LLC. “There were more than 3,380 entrees in 65 National categories overall and to receive the 2009 IPPY award is certainly an honor. It reflects well on the quality of the Dictionary and the hard work by the editor and all the contributor.” Other presses honored included Yale University Press which led the medal count with five, and Indiana University Press and Kent State University Press followed with four and three medals.

    Three anonymous judges vetted the New Lakota Dictionary. Competition judges hold various roles within the book community: newspaper reviewers, librarians, bookstore owners and buyers, designers and other publishing professionals. Below are the written comments from one of the judges.

    “This was the first book I pulled out of the box for review. My immediate reaction was one of appreciation, as I’ve been asked for a Lakota dictionary at the reference desk.”
    “Also, having recently spent time watching / reviewing Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and recently returning from a trip to South Dakota, I have a re-heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining native language and culture and of resources that document these. "
    “The addition of the grammar usage section to the dictionary makes this resource even more invaluable. This resources is a must have for linguistics programs, libraries, as well as for larger public libraries and Native American culture museum libraries. Thank you for this resource. "

    The New Lakota Dictionary represents a major step in standardizing Lakota writing and provides Lakota-English / English Lakota sections and incorporates the Dakota dialects of Yankton-Yanktonai & Santee-Sisseton.

    The Dictionary contains 20,000 definitions, including over 6,000 words that have never appeared in a dictionary, and a 90-page section on grammar. The 3,000 “most important” words are highlighted. Over 300 native speakers served as consultants to ensure that the bonds between language and culture come alive in the New Lakota Dictionary’s 43,000 example sentences and collocations. You can learn more about the dictionary at the LLC Bookstore.
  • Level 2 Post-testing Results and Commentary



    2009PostT1

    Information on Level 2 Post-testing from an interview conducted by LLC Communications Associate, Tomas Beauchamp.

    TB: Karen, you recently completed the post-testing process of the Lakota Language Level 2 Textbook. This marks the second full year of pre-and post-testing. Tell me about the schools.

    KLW: Testing is a lot of work but I find it very satisfying. I always learn something and it makes me feel good to help schools improve their Lakota Language Program,
    This school year grades K-12 at thirty-four schools, including alternative schools, participated in the post-testing process using Levels 1 and 2 testing tools. I was unable to test the full student population at some schools due to end of the school year activities and graduations.
    In between the testing, my time was spent visiting not only the participating schools but other schools to discuss establishing the LLC Lakota language program. It was encouraging to find a great amount of interest in starting a Lakota Language Program with these new schools.
    In the mean time, the participating schools strived to improve their pre-test averages through more interactive class room activities like games, use of the flashcards, the Lakota Font Bundle and the story books with the accompanying audio CD. Collaboration among schools began as administrators and teachers asked me to find available resources and activities used by other schools. An example would be a school wanting to find activities to teach the language through math or sharing of classroom resources.
    One way of indirect collaboration is through the use of the LLC curriculum by so many schools. By doing this, it gives the students who transfer from one school to another, even to another reservation, the opportunity to just slide into their new school’s Lakota Language Program. I found this to be true at a couple of schools where they thought the new students shouldn’t be tested because they transferred in during the school year. When I asked the students what school they came from it was a participating school and I was able to test them.
    As the post-testing began, other state tests were conducted and I was told that these students are tested and tested. So, I thought I would find resistance but when I told the students that it was the Lakota Language Test they were eager to test and are now familiar with the process. They love the fact that it is done on the computer with the headphones and they are willing to share with each other their scores. As always, students want to take it more than once.

    TB: I’m looking at the graphs and charts of the post test score results. In general, it looks like progress is being made. How much progress are you hoping to see?

    KLW: This year some classes met the 40% recommended improvement percentage but as far as the overall school percentage, it didn’t happen. The improvements that were made were great to see; any increase whether it is slight or big means progress.
    Schools that did not make significant improvements may have encountered unforeseen circumstances like no classes due to personnel issues. One teacher was deployed during the school year, one teacher was promoted to another position or maybe they lacked class room resources. There are always issues for schools to deal with and that’s why we try to keep the focus on making progress.

    TB: Tell me about the schools that are making the most improvement. I understand that they will receive awards.
    KLW: Yes, this year we are recognizing schools for achievement in two categories: Best Average (pre & post tests) and Most Improved.
    What’s interesting is that we are seeing a continued presence of Wakpala-Smee and Tiospaye Topa Schools in the Best Average category. Other schools like Roosevelt HS, Rock Creek, and Red Cloud deserve mention and are potential competitors for the Best Average category. In the Most Improved category, C-EB School and Standing Rock Jr. High earned honors.
    Schools that placed at the top of each category will receive plaques at the awards Lakota-Nakota Language Summit and other schools deserving of honorable mention will receive a certificate of achievement.
    In general, good scores reflect the ability of a school to provide an environment conducive to learning. There are always things in the way and testing can help schools identify where the issues are as a first step towards improvement. And, schools that are making the most progress can help other schools through examples of best practices.

    TB: Karen, what are the goals of testing and how can the LLC and schools use the results?

    KLW: The data results are returned to the school to use for their informational purposes; data is presented to the school boards, the tribal education committees and discussed among the appropriate staff at the schools. In addition, this data can benefit the schools for justification for the enhancement of their overall Lakota Language Program or Class and more class room time, class room space, resources and staff.
    Most importantly the data provides the school with the ability to analyze the results and determine not only the program success but student success as well. It provides the accountability schools need and what areas of improvement should be addressed.
    Currently, I’m developing a tool to test the testing process itself. The LLC wants to collect information from school administrators, teachers, and students about their experiences with our testing process and then evaluate our current method to see where we might be able to improve it. Eventually, what we want to put in place is a system for continuous improvement of the testing process and a method for schools to share best practices in establishing and maintaining a strong Lakota Language Program.


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  • One Picture Can Tell the Story



    l3_kitchen

    Developing LLC's Lakota langugae textbooks

    TB: Marty, you’ve recently started working for us as an illustrator for the Level 3 Textbook. Tell us about your background as an illustrator, and is the work your doing for the Textbook similar?

    MTB: I've been a professional freelance illustrator and cartoonist for the past twenty-five years. During that time I have worked in commercial printing as a graphic designer for nearly half those years. Thirteen of which I've been in daily newspapers as Graphics Editor for both The Rapid City Journal and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. I'm a painter, sculptor, web designer and more recently a jeweler. The Lakota Language Textbook is both a challenge and a privilege that I feel is a worthy endeavor for all involved.

    TB: What’s the process for creating artwork that matches with language instruction and how do you get inspired?

    MTB: My inspiration comes from my children when they were as old as the characters in the textbook. My children of course are in their twenties, but I can still see them as my babies.

    TB: I’ve seen several of the illustrations that you’ve made for the Level 3 Textbook and many have a lot of detail. I’m in awe of anyone who can draw well--how long does it take for you to create these illustrations.

    MTB: It really depends on the complexity of the assignment. A complicated room view can take a couple of days to get approved and then to render. I've been doing the illustrations in ink and painted them with watercolor; some of the smaller graphical work is done with a little computer-assisted rendering. This is a very fast way to work but it requires a great deal of concentration.

    TB: I can remember being in elementary school in Indiana. We learned to read from “Dick and Jane” books. I can’t recall what the stories were about but I can still see the pictures of Dick and Jane in my head. Surely, the images that you make will become cultural icons for Lakota children. Do you agree and, if so, how does this responsibility affect your work?

    MTB: Yes, I do agree. That of course depends how widely the textbooks are used. My hope is that children become inspired by the work and perhaps try to sharpen their artistic skills, because I feel that all Indian children have an innate artistic ability that just needs to be nurtured and developed. I foresee that one day an Indian artist will become one of great master artists of the world.

    TB: One of my favorite illustrations from the Level 3 Textbook is of a young boy in his room. For me, it’s like a window into someone else’s world. What fascinates me about this illustration is the ease in which you blend traditional and modern images. Why is this dichotomy important in your work?

    MTB: The character in this book (Bob) has to have a certain background that must be thought out and explored to make him believable. His room must reflect that all the items pictured were part of a collaboration between the artist and the writer. The writer must give me a list of what is in Bob’s room and I must make these objects believable. That is done through my own observations and research.
    For instance the model airplane hanging from the ceiling is an F4U Corsair, an airplane used by the US Marines during World War II and Korea. I reasoned that an uncle or perhaps Bob’s grandfather saw such aircraft during their military service and gifted this model plane to Bob. He, of course being young, failed to put on the airplanes decal markings. A British or German aircraft would have not made sense because of the logical conclusion: one could not connect the airplane to Bob’s character.
    Attention to such details will probably never see the light of day but it is very important to make the overall character believable. The reader or viewer acknowledges it without knowing why it was there. I want this character (all the characters) to actually become a part of the readers learning experience and maybe even their childhood.
    With the growing numbers of Native languages disappearing throughout our country it makes the work we are doing very important to the survival of the Lakota Language. I hope that this Textbook will make a difference.
    We as Native Americans live in the dual world of the Native and the dominant society. We must be able to survive in both worlds or we will never be complete human beings. I have seen and known Lakota people who are lost and given to addictions. They often fail after brief successes—never really knowing where they should go or be. We Lakota are part of a great circle and that is our journey. From birth to old age we travel around this circle and if that cycle is interrupted it will stop your personnel growth. I realize this sounds kind of mystical and I must apologize for speaking before my elders. I’m not a holy man or healer; I’m just a common man. But it is said; to be Lakota is to be religious.

    TB: Marty, of all your illustrations—what’s your favorite?

    MTB: I have always been asked what my favorite color is; I always say that I have no favorites because I love them all equally.


    Meet Marty Two Bulls, Sr. I'm an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. I am married now for twenty-five years, with three children ages 20, 23 and 24 years old. I've always stayed true to my calling. I'm an artist first, but in the process of my career I gravitated toward an unexpected media, daily newspapers. In 1982, I attended the Colorado Institute of Art, in Denver Colorado, After two years, I landed my first job with a local NBC affiliate television station working as an assistant to the art director. After a year there I went into commercial screen-printing as a commercial artist. Four years later, I accepted a position as a designer with the University of South Dakota. Several years later The Rapid City Journal, the second largest daily newspaper, recruited me as their new graphics editor, a position I held for seven years.

    It was at the Journal that I became an electronic journalist from the need to have graphics directly associated with the news story. This made the artist a reporter, by getting the detailed information directly from the source. It became clear to me that telling stories through a map or chart is just as vital as the written word. This revelation made my artwork and graphics popular with the readership and opened the door to opportunities with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader,the largest daily in South Dakota. After six years with the Argus I felt it was time to move away from the corporate world and try to give something back to my people.

    So I started working as a media coordinator for Maza Tiopa a nonprofit that mentors children who have the misfortune of having one or both parents in prison. The organization councils the children through traditional healing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Several years ago after my children were quite grown, my wife and I decided to return to college to finish our respective degrees. To this end I'm here to study at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here to sharpen my skills and learn about the new digital technologies. I can be reached at: m2bulls.com
  • Online Lakota Language Forum - Lakȟól’iya Owáakhiye Othí - Learn Lakota and Advance the Language 24/7



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    Since LLC launched the Online New Lakota Dictionary in December 2008, our rapidly growing online community has made many requests and suggestions for new Lakota words to meet modern needs. And, the Forum section of the site has become a buzz of activity for serious language learners. Users of the Forums learn, read and write Lakota and encourage Lakota literacy using consistent spelling.

    Tomas Beauchamp, LLC Communications Associate, conducted a written interview with Nina Webster, a Forum moderator, to give new and future users more information. To access the Forums visit the Online Lakota Dictionary and click on “Forums” at the top of the page; see www.lakotadictionary.org/forums

    TB: Nina, tell me more about the Forum.

    NW: There are nearly 400 members now, and more join every day - from absolute beginners to fluent and native speakers. New members have access to the Interactive Textbook and some preliminary activities, and after taking a very simple Entry Test to show that they can look up and type correctly a few words from the New Lakota Dictionary (NLD) they can enter the main Discussion forums. These are very lively! We are translating Lakota texts, writing our own short texts, listening to sound files of native Lakota speakers and transcribing them, asking questions, making mistakes, sharing our problems and helping each other out – we do write in English too! As an aid to self-study, this Forum and the NLD are quite simply the best resources available to serious students of Lakota. For the future, we envisage a completely structured Forum with sequential learning modules, but that will take some time to evolve.

    TB: When I went through the online registration process I was asked to respond to several questions and to complete some short quizzes. Why is this necessary?

    NW: It's important that the Forum has a friendly and relaxed environment, so it's good to know something about each other. The questions are not intrusive, and the responses help us to evaluate the content of the Forum to ensure that it meets the needs of the members.

    TB: So far, my favorite part of the Forum is the “Interactive Textbook,” and especially hearing Lakota sounds and words and typing in Lakota words. The computer that I was using already had the Lakota fonts installed. How can new users obtain ththe Lakota Font bundle and keyboard?

    NW: The Forum incorporates fonts and a Virtual Keyboard that enables typing Lakota within the Forum itself, so it isn't necessary to download or install anything to become a member. In the near future we plan to add a spellchecker and a lemmatizer (typing a verb into the lemmatizer will reveal its complete conjugation). The advantage of having the Lakota Keyboard and Fonts Bundle is that the Standard Lakota Orthography can be typed in any text editor outside the Forum. It's available here: http://stores.languagepress.com/Categories.bok?category=Software

    TB: English is my native language and I’ve just starting to learn Lakota. Can you give me any insight that might help improve my language learning experience?

    NW: Get the New Lakota Dictionary, join the Forum!! And read, listen, write, speak (to yourself if necessary!). Be aware that there's no 'quick fix', learning Lakota is just like learning any foreign language, but it's intensely rewarding.


    Meet Nina Webster I'm English, living in Bristol, south-west UK. Most of my working life was spent in accounts, but having recently retired I can see more of my family now (my son and daughter-in-law, and my two grandsons live nearby). And of course, I can devote the rest of my time to the Forum and Lakota language! I've always had a love of languages, and some eight years ago I came across some Lakota words in a book I was reading. I was intrigued and so my studies began.

    Since that time I've been privileged to be one of Jan Ullrich's volunteers, helping to organize the electronic data-base, editing and proof-reading – I had to learn some new computer skills too!
  • Lakota Dictionary Online

    The LLC is preparing to launch a new web page that will enable the Lakota language community to engage in a democratic process to evolve the language. This is an online community for speakers of all ages to suggest and evaluate new words that reflect 21st century living.

    The new Lakota language web page will go online December 15, 2008 at this address: www.lakotadictionary.org. This page will serve as a central forum to discuss the language, access a variety of language resources, and generate ideas and consensus on what new words are needed. What are your interests? Here are a few examples of requests that we’ve received so far:

    A science teacher wants Lakota words for chemistry and biology instruction.

    People from all walks of life want new Lakota words to describe modern electronics and information technology.

    Those involved in the contemporary economy need Lakota words to describe things relevant to banking, financial transactions, retail stores, online shopping and so on.

    Participants can use the web page at their own pace 24/7. Discuss what new Lakota words you need, vote on the words and usage suggestions of others, and bring attention to possible errors.

    Lakota speakers and linguists will also work to ensure that the language retains its integrity and remains consistent through this evolutionary process. The future vision is to include the complete New Lakota-Dakota Dictionary with a variety of usability functions. New Lakota words and usages will assist the LLC keep the New Lakota-Dakota Dictionary modern and useful for present and future speakers. The site will also serve as the platform for the eventual development of a fully-online Lakota dictionary in future years. The online dictionary will be completely comprehensive and include audio for all entries.