Nice to meet you! I’m Jamie Marquez-Bratcher, a Lakota Language Learner since 2020. I’m Oglala Lakota and chicano woman raised in the Schitsu’umsh (Coeur d’Alene) territory. My mother and I started learning Lakota to speak with each other and reconnect to our culture through language. My great grandmother Dorothy White Magpie passed two years after the Native American Language Act passed when many Lakota people like her felt passing on the culture would do more damage than good. My grandmother Darlene Red Bear passed before healing emotionally enough to share our culture effectively. Our family is working toward reclaiming our language and connecting with lost family through this slow mending process, just as many others do as well. It’s been a remarkable emotional journey to attend Lakota language classes and meet people who knew our loved ones when they were alive.

About The Author
While my partner, daughter, and I are typically based out of Arizona, we currently travel full time in an RV across the country. I also have an adult daughter that recently graduated from ASU. I work with the Lakota Language consortium as a Digital Media Specialist. After leaving a long career in Communications Technology Sales, I started freelancing, managing operations, and content creation for other businesses. When I’m not working, I enjoy hobbies such as creative planning and beadwork.


About This Series
I’ve partnered with the Lakota Language Consortium to share my observations using the materials the LLC has created on my personal learning journey. This blog post is the first in a series while I work though the materials to enhance my personal language journey.  While I hope this series is encouraging to anyone that’s reading it, I hope it’s especially encouraging to those reclaiming our culture in healthy ways such as language reclamation. 


Last year when LSI (Lakota Summer Institute) ended, I picked up the Lakȟótiya Wóglaka Po textbooks and the Grammar book. My intention was to get through this textbook and the other 4 before LSI started in 2022 so that I might feel confident in joining a more advanced class than I took last year. Fast forward to January of 2022, I’m just now getting around to cracking open the Level 1 textbook.


Before I got started, I grabbed my phone, opened up Apple Music (also a first) and searched for the Lakota Language Consortium, and found the audio portion of the lesson to stream. When I read through the acknowledgments of the textbook, it was neat to see so many Lakota people involved in the making of this textbook. A few pages in, I ran into an introduction page explaining how to use the book and wondered if I had somehow gotten a teacher’s textbook accidentally. Later, I would learn that the Level 1 textbook and teacher guide is 1 book since it is the oldest textbook in the series. 


I click “play” on the audio, and I’m greeted with catchy music and a soothing voice introducing me to the book. The audio jumped right into the lesson on page (10) of the textbook. I wasn’t ready. All the words were on the page, I had heard all these words before, but I wasn’t as prepared as I thought to follow along. I started the track over, and this time I responded with the speaker as he read down the page. I was thrilled that I knew many of the words and concepts after attending various Lakota language events. 


I read through the corresponding page (11) that was labeled “For Teachers and Parents (Unit 1)”. This gave a significant amount of detail on how the exercises should work in a classroom. It gave me an idea of how a teacher could encourage students to work through this lesson one word at a time. Lastly, there was a helpful section providing additional context for some words that were regional or that had alternate pronunciations.


I was so proud of myself for getting through lesson 1 that I quickly moved on to lesson 2. This lesson asked me to observe objects that I would see in a classroom. The phrase “Lé táku he?” was introduced to create corresponding responses. This is my a-ha moment. Although I wasn’t in a classroom, many of the objects in the lesson were sitting next to me in my own home. One object was my coffee cup.  I said to myself, “Lé wíyatke héčha.” The pencil I was holding “lé táku he?” “lé wíčazo héčha.”


I went through my junk drawer and found a roll of tape, and wrote the words onto it with a marker. I felt silly at first labeling areas that I keep my wakšíča, wówapi, and other objects highlighted in the unit. I was also glad to have clear reminders everywhere of these ideas and words I want to use to describe the world around me in my language.


Once I finished up with my labeling, I came back to the lesson. As I listened to the audio again and felt like these words were closer to becoming part of our family’s daily vocabulary. Just like in the first section, I found some additional notes with a few more words that are commonly used, like minísapa wíčazo – the term for a pen. 


The audio for Lesson 2 had a bonus section that allowed more opportunities to use the phrases in a different order for the objects on the page. I had to listen a few times before I matched the audio to the page, but I found all the objects in the end. 


With this being something that I had put off for so many months, I was surprised when I realized it took only about 45 minutes to complete these first few lessons. As I looked ahead, I realized there were more opportunities to listen to audio and match my learning, and even get some adult coloring time in on the lessons as well. 


I often think that my Lakota Language learning experience needs hours of preparation, planning, and guidelines with someone more experienced to help me. Reflecting on this first solo experience with this textbook, I wish I wouldn’t have let months of procrastination get the better of me. If you’ve got one of these books at your disposal, take a bit of time to get the first lesson done, and when you finish, drop me an email introducing yourself with that first lesson!


You can find the Lakȟótiya Wóglaka Po textbooks in the LLCBookstore. This book was created in 2004 and is part 1 of a 5 textbook series. If you are an educator and need more information on Lakota educational resources you can reach out to

Are you a Tribal member that would like to get started learning Lakota and need assistance accessing materials? Check out this previous blog post about Free Resources to get started Learning. You can also reach out to to request materials at no or low cost to get started on your learning journey.