LLC Provides Recordings To Be Stored in Tribal Archives

Lakota Language Consortium | April 17, 2023

Lakota Language Consortium Board of Directors and Staff are thrilled to share the donation of a variety of collections of past recordings with Sitting Bull College, Standing Rock Language And Culture Institute and the Oglala Lakota College Owoksape Tipi Archives. 

These recordings have allowed linguists and Lakota elder consultants to identify words that contributed to the creation of many materials that we all enjoy today. These recordings include narratives from Lakota speakers from Pine Ridge and Standing Rock reservations.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation recordings were collected between 2004 and 2019 from 26 fluent Lakota Elders. The 28 recordings were donated to honor the legacy of former board member Johnson Holy Rock. This collection will be stored at the Oglala Lakota College Archive. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe recordings were collected between 2005 and 2019 with 8 wonderful and fluent Lakota Elders. The 12 recordings were donated to honor the legacy and language advocacy of Standing Rock elder and Board Member, the late Kevin Locke. 

Each collection was delivered on a USB drive with relevant meta-data, signed release forms, as well as a worldwide, royalty-free, irrevocable license to the materials. This allows these organizations the rights to authorize the reproduction and publication of these materials for educational uses. 

Our hope is for these Tribal entities to share these collections as they see fit. 

What is contained in these recordings?

These recordings are conversations between linguist Jan Ullrich and each speaker. The conversations are casual and include life experiences, narratives, and a window into the lives of each individual.

What makes THESE recordings so important?

Many of these conversations are from individuals that are no longer with us. Every opportunity to learn directly from our Elders is precious. The insight and knowledge is irreplaceable. These recordings hold just a glimpse of the knowledge, both cultural and linguistic, that each speaker had. Each recording in the archive is important and LLC is thrilled that these donations have been accepted, and are now a part of the important work that Tribal archivists do each day. We hope you’ll thank and support them for the work they do and the care they take with these precious cultural treasures.

Who “owns” the content in these recordings?

We’ve observed a lot of online debate about this issue. LLC believes that each and every person that works with the LLC has the right to share their lived experiences with anyone they see fit. LLC has been fortunate enough to be trusted with these brief moments. Each release form includes permission given by the speaker to use these recordings to make derivative materials from it.

What took so long?

Throughout LLC’s history, recordings were often shared with speakers, Tribal members, and families upon request. Tribal Colleges and education groups have also collected recordings with the same speakers oftentimes sharing the same information. For a long time there wasn’t anyone interested in these recordings. LLC had been in discussions with various institutions about how they wanted to receive these recordings into their archives beginning in 2019, and it was just a matter of them being ready, and LLC linguists having the time to master the recordings. After the loss of many Elders during COVID a social media campaign pushed the conversation forward in 2021, which helped move the process forward.

Who do I contact at the Tribe to learn more about these recordings?

Oglala Lakota College Library

Sitting Bull College Library

Why didn’t LLC release the recordings on their own website?

Being a non-profit we have a limited capacity to provide the proper customer service group that would allow us to manage individual requests for these recordings. Each Tribe has a different approach to archive, accessibility and can serve Tribal members in a way that we are not equipped to support long term. LLC believes that the Tribes should have these recordings and distribute as they see fit.

How does LLC profit from these recordings?

LLC does not profit from these recordings. LLC is a non-profit organization that does not engage in any money making endeavors. The materials created are sold at or slightly above the cost of producing them and any proceeds fund future projects within the organization.

How can I use these recordings to benefit my language journey?

It is always ideal to learn from Lakota Elders whenever possible, and these recordings are one more way to learn the language. We recommend you reach out to the folks mentioned above when they choose to make these accessible. There are a number of different ways a learner can use recordings such as these to further their learning. One is listen for words you know and are familiar with. Then listen for phrases that you know and are familiar with. Eventually you could attempt to transcribe. You could also identify words or phrases that you’re not familiar with. Use these to make flashcards and quiz yourself. Listen to the recordings with other language learners and help each other with comprehension and/or translations. The options are endless and we are excited that these opportunities will now be available.

Recently LLC has released the Wičháho Blihélya podcast in the language. This podcast is an example of current work being done in the community that allows Elders and First Language Speakers to communicate directly to the community, and is organized by theme/topic. Sharing data and giving access to resources has been core to LLC’s mission since the beginning of it’s inception.

Are there additional recordings?

Yes, the full list is accessible in the front of the print dictionary. This is the first in a series of donations LLC will be making in the future. LLC continues to work with these and other Tribes to donate recordings. If you are a representative of this Tribe that would be able to manage the archive, please reach out to

Did LLC return the recordings to Delores Taken Alive’s Family?

Yes, in September of 2020 and again in September of 2021 LLC provided recordings of Delores Taken Alive to the Taken Alive family.

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