In 2000 the United Nations proclaimed February 21st International Mother Language Day, making every February 21st a day to recognize and honor all the languages on the planet as

“the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage … and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue,”

as the UN proclamation states.

In the spirit of such recognition, LLC declares February 21st to be Lakota Language Day!

And why not?  We, too, believe that the languages are  “the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.”

Here are some other reasons to mark a day for honoring Lakota:

  1.  Remember the elders who kept Lakota songs, traditions and ceremonies alive;
  2. Remember the generations silenced in the boarding schools;
  3. Remember the Code Talker soldiers of World War II, who had to keep their service a secret for so long;
  4. Remember the civil rights activists of the 1960s and ’70s who fought for Native cultures’ and languages’ right to exist;
  5. Honor the speakers who have brought their understanding of the language into classrooms and have done their best to find a way to teach it;
  6. Honor yourself and your fellow students for your commitment to learning.

Reviving the Lakota language requires a quiet little revolution in every learner – that much determination, that much dedication, that strong of a decision to go for it.  LLC thinks that the grit shown by Lakota language students and teachers deserves recognition.

So we’ll say it again –  February 21st is Lakota Language Day!

The revitalization movement for Native American languages is a bit the reverse ofwhat UN programs aim for with indigenous languages. UN programs start with tribal peoples who still speak their mother tongues at home and in their villages, but face the choice to give that language up as they seek opportunities and education in more developed areas.

What do you think you could do to make February 21st Lakota Language Day in your home or classroom? Here are some ideas:

  • Learn a new word, speak and write it all day when you can;
  • Teach someone a new word and practice speaking it with them;
  • Text someone in Lakota;
  • Write a story in Lakota;
  • Ask a speaker to help you with pronunciation or understanding of a word or phrase.
  • Making a special day for the language can be a reminder that now is the time to make the language your own – even if it’s just one word or phrase.