Special Edition: LSI 2015 Wrap-Up

June 19th marked the last day of the ninth Lakota Summer Institute (LSI)!

Can you believe that we’ve been running the Institute for almost ten years?

This year was big in many ways! Last year we had more than 100 participants at Sitting Bull College, but that included Lakota, Crow, and Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Summer Institutes. This year, we had over 100 participants just at LSI!

So, our program keeps growing, in terms of participants and classes. For example, this year we offered Phonology II with Jan Ullrich, which gave participants the opportunity to listen to recordings of eloquent Lakota speakers, transcribe text from these recordings, and familiarize themselves with fast speech phenomena.

The big event at LSI this year was a pre-screening of Rising Voices/Hótȟaŋiŋpi, which took place at the Standing Rock High School Auditorium June 11-13 (at 8 PM). There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the film, and we can’t wait for our premiere tour in November. Follow our Facebook page and Twitter to hear about the cities, dates and times of Rising Voices screenings!

This special edition newsletter will give you some of the highlights through participant perspectives! We caught up with a lot of people at the institute—from brand new members to devoted LSI veterans and teachers—to see what they thought about this year’s program. (And psst, for the record: all those that came to LSI for the first time are definitely planning to come back next year).

18072197103_eb19b0bdba_zAllen James Wilson – a first-time LSI participant from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, who is a language and culture teacher at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD. “I really really enjoyed the institute, and learned so much from the methods. For example, in Rosebud we use Albert White Hat’s orthography, which is great, but having the [Standard Lakota] orthography explained with the introduction of phonemes helps so much.” One thing Allen would fix about LSI? “I wish the Institute was longer…at least 6 weeks!” Us too Allen, us too.

18003193324_e3a104c303_zEnya Agard – a junior in high school and a returning (2nd year) participant of LSI. Her favorite part of LSI: “I lke interacting and meeting new people”. When we asked her what it feels like to be learning Lakota, she said, “My parents don’t speak Lakota. It feels cool to know another language and to be able to teach them Lakota words.”  Right on!

18845246342_eba0f979b9_zAlli Moran – a third year LSI-er who practices Lakota at home by herself. “When I was 10 everything began to come together. I began to understand what it means being a Native woman and the importance of Lakota language and culture […] I love it here. I love seeing everyone come together and we all have a common cause, which is to learn and speak the language.”

18504375329_52190a85a2_zPaulette R. High Elk – a Lakota language teacher from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Paulette has been coming to LSI for 7 out of 9 years. She recounted, “For one thing, I enjoy coming here because it’s a time I can be around other language teachers and fluent speakers. After the year is done, it’s kind of like a retreat where I can get re-energized, get motivation, and learn something new. Even though I’m a fluent speaker I didn’t know how to read or write, so I learned the majority of that by coming to the Institute.” She’s been teaching Lakota for about 21 years, but we were surprised to learn that her training was in…nursing! When we asked her if she missed nursing she laughed and said, “Well, there’s a lot of nurses out there, but not a lot of fluent Lakota speakers”.

18506523839_1b3a1e9612_zMike (Mac) McFarland – a first-timer at LSI, who has been avidly studying Lakota for 3 years at University of South Dakota. “I came to be interested in the language through Plains History and culture […] My language teacher years ago told me about the LLC.” When we asked him what his favorite part of LSI was, he responded with “Frankly, the amount of learning materials, which is vastly more than any of those out there, both for learners and teachers. I am very anxiously awaiting the Lakota teachers’ grammar. Having a document that expands on the grammar in such depth will be invaluable.”

Quinn (left) with good friend Blaze Starkey, another enthusiastic LSI participant.

Quinn (left) with good friend Blaze Starkey, another enthusiastic LSI participant.

Quinn Orris – a second year LSI-er from the Yankton Sioux Tribe (Dakota). Quinn received a grant from his college this year to come to LSI. “I needed to take a language for my degree, so I searched for Lakota and found the Institute. This is one of the best places for learning an indigenous language that I’ve ever heard of. When I got here it was mind blowing. Everyone here is so nice and there are so many intelligent people teaching us. This year is more exciting to me with all the new resources that have become available, which I can use in my off-time. I plan on coming back as many years as I can.”

DSC_5438Tipiziwin Tolman – Tipiziwin is a teacher at the Language Nest and has been involved in LSI from 2007. “I remember where there was only 20 something people and only one track of courses. At the time it was mostly native speakers that came. It’s grown so much.” Tipizi hopes to engage more of the community as a whole, “It’s been a really good experience and I wouldn’t change anything, I just wish community members would understand the opportunity that’s right on our front door.”

18954518755_c53e6f6090_zWaníya Locke – Waníya is an LSI veteran and participant of the LLEAP program. “I like seeing how much it grew, so many new people from different countries this year…And I like seeing everyone having their ‘ah-ha!’ moments, saying ‘This makes sense’ or ‘I didn’t think of it that way!’ There’s always something for everyone – for secondary language learners, for teachers, for new language learners, and for children!”

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Šišóka Dúta (left) and his wife Katie, showing off our LSI 2015 mugs.

Šišóka Dúta (Joe Bendickson)a Dakota language teacher. It was Šišóka Dúta’s second time teaching at LSI. He previously taught 3 years ago, but this year it was the first year he taught intensive Dakota for beginners and Dakota teaching methods Level 1. Šišóka shared some of his thoughts, “I really had a good time. We are building a cross-dialectal unity. Instead of just doing Dakota, we are bringing people together to learn Lakota and Dakota […] I think the kind of atmosphere that language strives in is a positive, safe environment where people can learn. And that’s what we have here.”

We want to hear what you thought about this year’s Lakota Summer Institute, and what you want to see next year! Suggestions and ideas for classes or topics you’d like to explore are welcome. Email us, tweet at us, Facebook us! If you weren’t following our news, check out our Twitter and Facebook, and search for hashtags #LSI2015 or #speaklakota.

And while we know you’ll miss us during the year,

we’ll be working hard to bring you even better Lakota language-learning tools and products for the next summer institute! This week we are at Makoché Studios in Bismarck recording some of our new projects, including Lakota Children’s Songs Volume 3! If you know any Lakota songs and would like to share them for the next album, contact Marek Kupiec at marek@lakhota.org

Thank you to all organizers and participants for making LSI 2015 a memorable experience!

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