Understanding the Issue

Native languages in the United States are in the throes of a prolonged and deadly crisis. For the past 400 years, Native Peoples and their languages have been steadily and undeniably disappearing. Though the historical fate of Native Peoples has been reluctantly acknowledged, less is publicly known about the associated fate of their languages.

In recent years, this expanding crisis has reached a deadly climax. Of the many hundreds of languages spoken in North America before the arrival of Euro-American colonizers, only a handful, perhaps a dozen, can be considered viable enough today to survive.

  • Lakota-Map

    The loss of indigenous languages is a world-wide issue. Work to preserve native languages is happening in Australia, Indonesia, South America, and Africa to name but a few areas where this work is vital. In the United States, the danger to native languages is an immediate crisis and one that has been building since the first European settlers entered the New World.

  • WhySaveLakota

    In the United States, only 165 out of more than 300 Native American languages are still spoken. The majority of these are on the brink of extinction. Seventy-four are almost extinct, with only a handful of elderly speakers. Fifty-eight have fewer than 1,000 speakers. Lakota falls in the top 5% of the surviving languages, as one of only 8 Native American languages with over 5,000 speakers. Lakota can and must be preserved.

  • WhatIsBeing2

    The LLC language revitalization strategy focuses on creating a new generation of Lakota speakers. The initiative utilizes the existing large network of Lakota schools, pre-schools and day care centers to educate children from an early age in Lakota as a second language. LLC also works with tribal leaders, government organizations and charitable foundations to achieve its mission.

  • WhatIsBeing

    Lakota children have wanted to learn their language, but have lacked textbooks and learning aids. Teachers have wanted teaching materials but often can't get them. LLC is helping to provide these and other resources, and we need your help to do so.

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