2013-1 Newsletter


All the news from LLC and its affiliates so far this year.


  • LSI in 2013


    The Lakota Summer institute, is so much more than just courses in and on Lakota. It is the central event that is revitalizing the language, empowering the next generation, and making the come-back of the language a reality. This year's participants got the chance to find out what the excitement is all about.

    Of course the classes at the 2013 Lakota Summer Institute went far beyond the linguistic foundations of language study. Teaching in immersion schools was a course focus, with visiting Mohawk teachers presenting methods that have helped in their success. Also, Timoti Karetu will be visited us once more from New Zealand to re-connect and encourage. There were also a number of fabulous special events.

    Other courses broadened the scope of LSI subjects included Plains Indian Sign Language, taught by Lanny Real Bird (Hidatsa) from Crow Agency, Montana. We also had great success with the addition of a course in traditional Lakota flute music, taught by LLC Board Member Kevin Locke. Kevin was joined by Richard Dubé, a renowned music educator from Canada. Dubé created a Lakota flute lesson plan adapted from the Orff Approach to music education. Participants used the new lesson book to learn to teach the traditional Lakota flute. LSI 2013 was all of this and so much more. Updates on the Institute will be published in our Summer Newsletter. Check out photos and news stories from this year's Institute on LLC's Facebook.
  • RISING VOICES / HOTȞAŊIŊPI Spring 2013 Update


    Production Continues -- It’s been two years since the start of the process, and we feel that Rising Voices / Hotȟaŋiŋpi is really coming together. In December 2012, a camera crew led by the project’s Producer-Director, Larry Hott, returned to South Dakota for further production photography. They went to the Lakota National Invitational to capture the excitement of Lakota basketball and the pride of the Language Bowl contestants. There, the newly elected Chairman of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Bryan Brewer, graciously sat for an on-camera interview. He reiterated his support for revitalizing the language.

    Hott and his crew will return to the Lakota Summer Institute as well this year, and begin following selected participants as they teach, study, and practice the language with each other.

    We see interest in Native American languages growing among media grantmakers, and young speakers from many tribes continue to put up their own online videos documenting their explorations in their languages. One videomaker is Standing Rock’s Tonia Hall. You can find her and her daughters practicing Lakota by searching “toniajohall” on YouTube.

    It is truly a privilege to gather the stories of young adults who are so determined to become more fluent. We feel this film will have an inspirational effect when it is completed, and show general audiences that there is something very positive happening in Lakota Country.

    New website -- Rising Voices / Hotȟaŋiŋpi has an improved web site up, at www.risingvoicesfilm.com. We now have three videos posted, giving a taste of the vitality this film captures about the Lakota language revival movement. There are also stills from our shoots at the 2012 LSI and the December 2012 Language Bowl at the LNI.

    Go Social! -- Rising Voices / Hotȟaŋiŋpi can also be followed via Twitter and Facebook – just come “like” us via the film’s title, or through The Language Conservancy page!

    All of these feeds will keep you updated on developments in Native language revitalization around the world, in print media and videos.
  • New Lakota Dictionary Back Online

    dictionary header
    A few weeks ago the Online Dictionary went down for maintenance and security upgrades. We are happy to report that as of March 19, the Online Dictionary is back up and live. We were able to update many of the security functions and we also took the opportunity to update many of the site’s features, such as autocorrect for misspelled Lakota words in the search field. Previously, a misspelled Lakota word being searched would not generate responses. We took the hint from Google and Word that people do tend to misspell words! Our system gives you options to choose from for the correct word. No other Native American language dictionary has this kind of feature. In addition, we set it up so that you may copy and paste a head word into your separate text. We hope this particular convenience encourages further use of the online Dictionary and propels use of Lakota in new, creative literature.

    The analytics we use for NLDO showed us some heartening numbers regarding the Online Dictionary. NLDO is searched more than 170,000 times annually. Our Facebook announcement on March 19 that the Dictionary was online again created the biggest buzz of anything we’ve ever posted on Facebook – more than 10,000 views in two days. That even beats the Berenstain Bears’ buzz!

    The comment thread on the Facebook post is also super-positive, with remarks like “best resource of its kind,” and “hope it sets a trend for similar projects in the new future.” This kind of viral support is definitely pushing language awareness and the motivation to learn forward at a quickening pace.

    Here are some of the new features this version:

    For the Lakota word-search input you can choose between “Approximate spelling” and “Consistent spelling”. Each approach has certain advantages.

    ° Approximate spelling
    This feature enables you to type Lakota words without diacritics and use some of the older and simplified spelling systems. For instance, typing in tatanka will yield the entry tȟatȟáŋka, searching for najin will yield nážiŋ, typing in anagoptan will show the entry anáǧoptaŋ. This option is useful for people who are not yet familiar with the consistent phonemic spelling based on the NLD orthography. But it can also be useful to those reading old texts, most of which use simplified non-phonemic spelling. For instance, if you see a word spelled as toka, the approximate spelling search will yield three entries: tȟóka ‘enemy’, tókȟa ‘something is happening’ and tȟoká ‘first’. Based on context you can then decide which of the three words is meant in the text. The one disadvantage of the Approximate spelling search is that the search results can sometimes be too broad. For instance if you type in “ka” the search will yield entries, ka-, ká, kȟá and k’á, so you will have to scroll down to find the desired entry.

    ° Consistent spelling.
    With this feature ON the dictionary database will be searched only for the word matching your spelling. So if you type in káŋ the dictionary will display the entry káŋ ‘to be old’ and if you type in kȟáŋ the search will yield kȟáŋ ‘vein’. Typing in “toka” will yield no result as there is no such Lakota word when consistent spelling is used. We recommend that this feature is turned ON by users who are already familiar with the NLD based spelling. The advantage is that the search results are exact so you will not have to scroll down and read through numerous entries which have no relation to your search. This feature is also particularly useful when you are trying to look up words from texts written in the consistent orthography.

    You can choose one of three options to type special Lakota characters into the search field:

    A) Click on the letter-buttons (icons) displayed above the search field. This is fully satisfactory if you want to look up just a few words at a time.

    B) Use the NLDO integrated Virtual keyboard (KEYBOARD ON) If you check this check-box your physical keyboard will be temporarily remapped to match the NLD-based standard Lakota keyboard. The main advantage of this function is that it allows typing Lakota characters quickly and without the need to install anything on your computer. Note that the remapping of your keyboard will work only on the NLD-O webpage and that your keyboard will be unaffected by elsewhere.

    C) Use your own Lakota keyboard
    You can also type Lakota characters using your locally installed Lakota keyboard, such as the Lakota Keyboard and Font bundle or a keyboard designed with the MS Keyboard Creator. In this case leave the KEYBOARD ON checkbox unchecked. Please note that if you want to look up words from older texts or use approximate spelling it is better to leave the KEYBOARD checkbox unchecked. This is because the Lakota keyboard layout will prevent you from typing the letter “j”.

    When you have typed the first three letters of your needed Lakota word, a list of suggestions will appear below. Note that the suggestions are first selected from the 1000 most frequent words, and only after you type in more letters will you be given suggestions from the entire list of dictionary headwords.

    This feature existed in the previous version of the NLD-O but we want to introduce it to the new users as it is of immense importance and help. One of the aspects of Lakota which can slow down beginners from reading texts is the complexity of verb conjugation. For instance one cannot find the word mawáni as a dictionary entry because it the 1st singular (‘I’) form of the verb máni. The lemmatizer makes it possible to find these conjugated forms, so if you look up walówaŋ, the search result will say that it is “The 1st singular form of lowáŋ”. The NLD-O lemmatizer currently recognizes all conjugation forms of the vast majority of Lakota verbs, reaching to around 500,000 word forms. We continue improving the algorithm to make it recognize more inflected word forms and we hope that Lakota language learners will make much use of this tool.

    5) UPDATES
    The content of the dictionary has been updated in two ways. A larger number of edits and corrections have been implemented and the dictionary has been expanded with 2247 new entries. The majority of the new entries represent words which have not been previously documented in a Lakota dictionary, a few of the new entries are attestations of entries from older dictionaries.

    Find more info at the Forum
  • LLC Social Media Listings


    LLC has numerous social-media options. Link up and promote the Language! LLC Facebook - get the latest updates and news

    Twitter- get the latest updates and news

    LinkedIn - join the LSI Alumni group, or Lakota Teacher Association or follow LLC

    Pinterest - A fun repository of LLC pics

    Flickr- Another repository of LLC pics

    YouTube- the best place to find Lakota language videos

    LLC Bookstore Facebook - A good place to find deals on LLC products

    LLEAP Facebook Page - a nice place to find LLEAP info and news

    Iktomi's Raccoon Hat Facebook - The place to stay connected to the I.R.H. fan-club

    Lakota Berenstain Bears Facebook- the best place to find Lakota Bears events and news
  • New Websites Update


    For those hoping that LLC's website will finally emerge out of Web 1.0, the wait is nearly over. Both TLC's and LLC's websites have undergone major over-hauls, one that will make them both easier to use and more attractive.

    The new website for The Language Conservancy, LLC's sister organization, is currently up and running. The LLC website makeover is scheduled for completion in early August.

    Each site will feature advanced options like interactive maps, integrated social media feeds, and tons of new information. Stay tuned through Twitter or Facebook for when the websites finally go live.


  • OST Implements More Lakota Language


    As part of new Oglala Sioux Tribal President Brewer's effort to support language use, LLC was asked to provide language support materials to tribal departments. The Oglala Sioux Tribe received dictionaries, maps, and technological support materials for their effort to implement greater use of Lakota language into their operations. OST believes that making by language a greater part of the everyday activities of the tribe, it will help support the revitalization and increased use of the language.
  • Language Study Advances at Sitting Bull


    Sitting Bull College is making Lakota language history by developing a new Associates in Science (AS) degree in Lakȟótiyapi/Dakȟotiyapi (Lakota/Dakota Language Studies) - the first new degree program in Lakota Studies anywhere since the discipline was established in academia 40 years ago. Sitting Bull College is located in Fort Yates, ND, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

    This AS degree offers 21 new courses modeled on the Lakota language “boot camp” held at Sitting Bull every June, LLC’s Lakota Summer Institute. The curriculum is a state of the art second-language education program that incorporates the latest teaching methods as well as the most current linguistic and pedagogical understanding of how people learn languages.

    Course areas include: Teaching Lakota Level 1-5 Methods, Intensive Lakota for Beginners I-III, Intensive Lakota for Pre-Intermediates I-III, Immersion Methods 1-9 Neologism Development 1-2, Video Material Development 1-2, Lakota Drama/Performance 1-3

    Teachers coming out of this program will have a larger skill set than ever before, and certainly an advanced understanding of how to teach Lakota. Sunshine Archambault Carlow, Education Department Manager for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said, “This advancement has been a priority for us. The situation of the Lakota language has changed over the past two decades, but the curriculum has not. In the 21st century there is an urgent need to ground teaching in best practices for second-language and immersion education. Our students have become more sophisticated, they are hungry for a deeper grasp of the language, the methods for teaching and learning a second language have changed, and the language has become more endangered. We are pleased the College is leading the way.”

    The new AS degree program will be announced on Sitting Bull’s web site, www.sittingbull.edu. Courses in both Lakota and Dakota include classes in morphology, syntax, and phonology. Courses in second-language education include immersion methods and literacy development, to help students include reading and writing Lakota as tools for expressing themselves. There are also courses in Northern Plains sign language, songs, methods for recording and transcription of language in the field, and an overview of best practices in language revitalization among other Native American tribes.
  • Language Activists Scout-out New Zealand


    Three staff members from the Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi (Lakota Language Nest) immersion preschool at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, Standing Rock, took a few days this past month for the journey of a lifetime - to New Zealand. Down Under, where the Summer was turning into Fall, Sacheen Whitetail-Cross, Thipiziwin Young, and Tom Red Bird traveled around Maori country, in both cities and villages, visiting the immersion schools for Maori language, soaking up how this indigenous tribal people have revived their language into common use.

    Sacheen told us she, Tom, and Thipiziwin spent time in the countryside villages, and in Napier, a city on the Eastern Coast of the North Island, in an urban area that is the fifth-largest in the island nation. Napier is also known for its place in Maori history: set on a protected bay, it was home to one of the most powerful tribes, and these Maori were the first to encounter European explorers and traders in the 18th Century. Maori still make up nearly 20 percent of the city’s population.

    “People do use the Maori language here,” Sacheen said. “There’s just no excuse to do otherwise.”

    She went on to say that the language is all over the place, in signage, place names, in print, and on a Maori TV channel. “That was real cool ,” she enthused. “I wish we had that. “

    Government funding of Maori language far outstrips the U.S. investment in Native American languages. Their funding amounts to $200 million for 800,000 speakers, where the U.S. provides just $2 million for 4 million people. New Zealand’s Māori Language Act of 1987 declared Maori an official language of the country, which allows it to be used in courtrooms and political speeches. Immersion preschools were founded around the country beginning in the early 1980s, and were followed by immersion primary and secondary schools – which led to the creation of preschools in New Zealand for other Pacific Island languages, such as Fijian, Samoan, Rarotongan and Tongan.

    “You can see that the government cares about the language,” Sacheen observed. So do Maori of all generations. Sacheen said that people of different generations would speak Maori to one another in any situation. She and Thipiziwin were guests of Timoti Karetu, leader of the Maori revitalization movement and several organizations preserving and promoting Maori culture. She said that when another Maori was in the room, Karetu would speak with them in Maori.

    Sacheen is back in Fort Yates full of inspiration for her work with Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi . “Let’s make this a reality,” she said. “I personally came back hungry for the language. [I want to] hear it more so I can learn it.”

    She found that Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi's young students had been learning while she was gone. “During snack time just now they were eating animal cracker and I asked, "tona he?" How many do you have? Almost every one of them can count their crackers and say how much they have in Lakota. I had no idea they knew that!”
  • Crow and Seminole Tribes begin work on L1 Textbooks

    Seminole Language version of Level 1 Textbook in Development

    If anyone still needs validation for the comprehensive approach to language revitalization adopted by the Lakota tribes, here you go: Two other Native American groups, the Crow of Montana and the Seminole of Oklahoma, have begun work on putting the Level 1 lesson format to work for their languages. LLC’s sister organization, The Language Conservancy, is helping to facilitate the transfer to re-tool the Lakȟótiya Wóglaka Po! Speak Lakota! curriculum and teacher training system for each of these tribes. Six units of the Level 1 Textbook have been translated into Crow, and teacher training will soon be underway so that the books can be published and distributed to schools for the 2013 school year.

    The Language Conservancy has also been contacted by the other Native American groups where there is growing interest in language revitalization. It’s good to see how the proven Lakota success is being shared, in a spirit of cooperation and camaraderie, recognizing that language loss is a common experience of all tribes.