New Lakota Dictionary


The New Lakota Dictionary could not exist without the help of passionate speakers, elders, and other contributors. 

This dictionary is the result of a community-based effort stemming from an idea of hope for documenting and revitalizing the language. Elders who initiated this endeavor and Native Speakers who contributed to it were happy to share their linguistic knowledge and proud to have it documented for their children and grandchildren. Thus, the dictionary is a legacy of all Native Speakers who decided to join this effort and contributed to it between 1992 and 2022. The fact that the number of Native Speakers has been decreasing dramatically over the past 30 years is a cause of deep sorrow among all who care about the future of the language. We are eternally grateful for all the linguistic knowledge that they shared with posterity.

The Native-Speaking contributors are acknowledged in the first two sections below. Numerous other people who contributed to this dictionary in different ways are acknowledged in ensuing.

Main contributors

The chief consultant involved with all three editions was Ben Black Bear, Jr. who provided oversight, making sure that the content of the entries was accurate. A vast number of entries were also contributed or checked by Robert Two Crow. During the last two years of work on the 3rd edition, Richard Two Dogs joined the efforts and shared a large amount of invaluable knowledge that extended the database in a significant way. We are grateful to these elders for their commitment to this dictionary project.

Following is a list of other Native Speakers who made extensive contribution to this dictionary in numerous different ways. For instance, they were consulted on a large number of entries, recorded long narratives for extending the text corpus or offered much of their time in checking the lexical entries. Some of them were involved during extended time periods or met with the editor on a regular basis. We are grateful to the following Lakȟóta community members: the late John Around Him, the late Rudy Fire Thunder, Iris Eagle Chasing, the late Etta Little Thunder, the late Johnson Holy Rock, the late Delores Taken Alive, the late Calvin Jumping Bull, Darlene Last Horse, Kayo Bad Heart Bull, the late Stanley Looking Horse, Arvol Looking Horse, the late Wilmer Mesteth, the late Paulette High Elk, David West, the late Sandra Black Bear-Jealous, the late Everette Lone Hill, the late Mel Lone Hill, the late Levi Left Hand, the late Shirley Left Hand, the late Kenny Little Thunder, Bernadine Little Thunder, Helmina Makes Him First, the late Mary Ann Red Cloud, the late John Yellow Hawk, the late Ray Takes War Bonnet, Jerome Kills Small, Florida Bull Bear, the late Bill Little Thunder, Phoebe Little Thunder, Catherine Looking Horse, the late Philomine Lakota, the late Dave Bald Eagle, Ben Eagle Elk, the late Fern Ann Hollow Horn, the late Robert Left Hand Bull, the late Leonard Little Finger, the late Elisabeth Makes Him First, Verola Spider, the late Sam Two Bulls, the late Marilyn Circle Eagle, the late Lyle Noisy Hawk, Sr., Vina Yankton Lone Hill, Philomine Moran.

All Native Speakers

Following is a comprehensive list of all native speakers who contributed to the dictionary in one way or another. Their contribution consisted primarily of working with the editor on recording stories that enlarged the text corpus used as the main source of lexical data. Whereas many of the speakers listed here recorded narratives of significant length, or several narratives, others recorded shorter stories or dialogues, or were merely consulted on words encountered in conversations between them and the editor. Many of these native speakers also helped by introducing the editor to other native speakers.

We are thankful to: Daniel Afraid of Hawk, Helen Alkire, Marta American Horse, Verdelia American Horse, Francis Apple, Vern American Horse, John Around Him, Clayton Ayutapi, Pat Badhand, Tim Bad Heart Bull, Kayo Bad Heart Bull, Tom Bad Heart Bull, Dewey Bad Warrior, Della Bad Wound, Irma Bad Wound, Dave Bald Eagle, Elmer Bear Eagle, Franklin Bear Running, Romanus Bear Stops, Wilbur Between Lodges, Ben Black Bear Jr., Arthur Black Bear, Sandra Black Bear, Trisa Black Bear, Olivia Black Elk-Pourier, John Black Feather, Vincent Black Feather, Alice Black Horse, Gabe Black Moon, Evelyn Black Moon, Norma Black Spotted Horse, Tony Black Spotted Horse, Norman Blue Coat, Florentine Blue Thunder, Tony Bobtail Bear, Dana Brave Eagle, Anita Brave Heart, Antony Brave Heart, Victor Brave Thunder, Judy Brown Otter, Joseph Brown Thunder, Raymond Brown Thunder, Harriet Brings, Dorothy Brings Him Back, Viola Broken Leg, Wade Broken Nose, Richard Broken Nose, Joe Brown Eyes, Joe Brown Thunder, Adolph Bull Bear, Marcel Bull Bear, Morris Bull Bear, Florida Bull Bear-Jealous, Anna Mae Bull Eagle, Andrea Bull Bear Reddest, Gwen Bullman, Clifford Canku, Pete Catches, Fred Cedar Face, John Cedar Face, Bryan Charging Cloud, Isaac Charging Crow, Clara Charging Crow, Richard Charging Eagle, Chris Charging Hawk, Harold Charging Hawk, Everett Chasing Hawk, James Chasing Hawk, Robert Chasing Hawk, Dave Chief, Joan Chief Eagle, Marilyn Circle Eagle, Wilson Coleman Sr., Ronald Columbus, Benjamin Conquering Bear, Elvina Conquering Bear, Cornelius Conroy, Dinah Crow Dog, Leonard Crow Dog, Leroy Curley, Andy Cutt, Francis Cutt, Steve Dubray, Guy Dull Knife, Barbara Dull Knife, Ben Elk Eagle, Harlan Eagle Bear, Iris Eagle Chasing, Pauline Eagle Chasing, Carmen Eagle Pipe, Madeline Eagle Thunder, Lynus End of Horn, Gilbert Good Shield, Mavis Fast Horse, Zona Fills the Pipe, Anna Fire Thunder, Victoria Fire Thunder, Cecilia Fire Thunder, Rudy Fire Thunder, Duane Fire Thunder, Mary Fire Thunder (Wright), Richard Fools Bull, Alice Four Horns, Agatha Full Bear, Iris Gay, Regina Grant, Robert Grant, Melvin Gray Owl, Everett Harrison, Delaney Has No Horses, Gladys Hawk, Wilson Hawkman, Tim He Crow, Darlene Helper, Sam High Crane, Arlee High Elk, Clara High Elk, Paul High Elk, Paulette High Elk, Suela High Elk, Vivian High Elk, Wesley High Elk, Bryant High Horse, Reva High Horse, Jerome High Horse, Ira High Pipe, Bernadette Hollow Horn, Fern Ann Hollow Horn, Pearl Hollow Horn, Phyllis Hollow Horn, Johnson Holy Rock, Isaac Holy Dog, William Horn Cloud, Gerald Ice, Bernard Ice, Eldena Ice, Harvey Iron Boy, Vernon Iron Cloud, Theo Iron Cloud, Marcy Iron Crow, Carmelita Iron Hawk, Matthew Iron Hawk, Manny Iron Hawk, Lawson Iron Hawk, George Iron Shield, Veronica Iron Thunder, Edna Janis – Plenty Arrows, Oscar Jealous, Dorothy Jones, Calvin Jumping Bull, Robert Jumping Eagle, Felix Kidder, Velma Kills Back, Madeline Kills In Sight, Mary Kills In Sight, Delores Kills In Water, Mike Kills Pretty Enemy, Mary Helen Kills Pretty Enemy, Jerome Kills Small, Ethal Kills Straight, Birgil Kills Straight, Lester Kills The Enemy, Philomine Lakota, Darlene Last Horse, Jeanne Last Horse, James Laysbad, Shaina Laysbad, Doris Leader Charge, Levi Left Hand, Shirley Left Hand, Robert Left Hand Bull, Christine Lejtay, Mary Light, Leland Little Dog, Oley Little Eagle, Charlie Little Elk, Leonard Little Finger, Whitley Little Hawk, Reggie Little Killer, Wally Little Moon, Bernadine Little Thunder, Rosalie Little Thunder, Harry Little Thunder, Ken Little Thunder, William Little Thunder, Phoebe Little Thunder, Jake Little Thunder, Etta Little Thunder (Perkins), Ines Little White Man, Phinette Little White Man, Aloysius Little White Man, Joyce Little White Man, Joyce Loafer, the late Kevin Locke, Zoë Lone Eagle, Ken Lone Elk, Mel Lone Hill, Everette Lone Hill, Faye Lone Hill, Mildred Lone Hill, Zona Loans Arrow, Edith Long Feather, Richard Long Feather, Catherine Looking Elk, Stanley Looking Elk, Arvol Looking Horse, Ivan Looking Horse, Cecilia Looking Horse, Stanley Looking Horse, Arlette Loud Hawk, Russell Loud Hawk, Elisabeth Makes Him First, Helmina Makes Him First, Emmett Martin, Curtis McKay, Austin McKay, Wilmer Mesteth, Philomine Moran, Amanda Morisette, Francis Morrison, Daniel New Holy, Lyle Noisy Hawk Sr., Lyle Noisy Hawk Jr., Leola One Feather, Gerald One Feather, Ingrid One Feather, Sophie One Feather, Bailey One Horn, Joe Picote, Erma Pinoe White Butterfly, Gloria Pipe on Head, Agnes Plenty Wolves, Sybl Plenty Wounds, Bill Quias, Ione Quigly, Elaine Quiver, Marie Randal, Albert Red Bear, Emanuel Red Bear, Darlene Red Bear, Andrew Red Bird, Arvol Red Bird, Betty L. Red Bird, Mary Red Bird, Stanley Red Bird, Tom Red Bird, Mary Ann Red Cloud, Oliver Red Cloud, Lilly May Red Eagle, Florine Red Ear Horse, Patrick Red Elk, Vern Red Horse, Cordelia Red Owl, Dainna Red Owl, Phyllis Red Day- Roberts, Paul Red Star, Genevieve Running Horse, Marylyn Runs After, Dorla J. Sadler, Grover Scott, Phoebe Sharp Fish, Theresa Sharp Fish, Mazie Shelton, Vern Shelton, Charlie Shot with an Arrow, Alvin Slow Bear, Steve Slow Bear, Verola Spider, Cora Spotted Eagle, Daniel Spotted Eagle, Sylvan Spotted Tail, Charity Spotted Tail, Dennis Spotted Tail, Pearl Spotted Tail, Neva Standing Bear, Darrel Standing Elk, Fred Stands, Ed Starr, Ivan Starr, Roy Stone, Mary Strikes Plenty, Joyce Sun Bear, Dave Swallow, Peter Swift Bird, Joseph Swift Bird Sr., Earl Swift Hawk, Edna Swift Hawk, Eugene Swift Hawk, Myrtle Swift Hawk, Eli Tail, Cleveland Tail, Delores Taken Alive, Imogine Taken Alive, Jesse Taken Alive, Joan Tall, Delores Takes War Bonnet, Ray Takes War Bonnet, Florence Ten Fingers, Sylvester Thin Elk, Gene Thin Elk, Twyla Thin Elk, Chubbs Thunder Hawk, Maxine Thunder Hawk, Sylvia Tobacco, Rudolf Tobacco, Ida Tobacco, Vern Top Bear, Sam Two Bulls, Feleta Two Bulls, Nellie Two Bulls, Matt Two Bulls, Robert Two Crow, Richard Two Dogs, Gaylord Two Eagle, Phil Two Eagle, Wilson “Buzi” Two Lance, Gene Tyon, Alice Uses Many, Mathew Uses the Knife, Marianne Walking Eagle, Sylvester Waloki, Paula Warner Wilson, Dale Weasel, David West, Annabelle Weston, Loretta Whirlwind Horse, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, Josephine White Crane, Sam White Crane, Charles White Elk, Clifford White Eyes, Isaac White Face, Bernice White Hawk, Eugene White Hawk, Noa White Lance, Alex White Plume, Mary White Thunder, Guy White Thunder, Sullivan White Wolf, Lillian White Wolf, Virginia White Woman, Douglas Widow, Clarence Wolf Guts, Edith Wounded Horse, Vina Yankton Lone Hill, Isaac Yellow Bull, Rebecca Yellow Hair, Leo Yellow Hair, John Yellow Hawk, Naoma Yellow Horse, Dennis Yellow Thunder, Amelia Yellow Thunder, Russell Yellow Thunder, Leonard Yellow Wolf, and Rachael Yells at Eagle.

Dakota Dialects

We are also very grateful to the consultants for the Dakota dialect variants. For Yankton-Yanktonai we acknowledge the late Zona Loans Arrow, the late Felix Kidder, the late Evelyn Black Moon, Evangeline Fast Horse, the late Richard Fool Bear, the late Regina Grant, Robert Grant, the late Melvin Grey Owl, Clayton Ayutapi and Everett Harrison. For Santee-Sisseton, we acknowledge Clifford Canku, Phyllis Red Day Roberts, Ronald Columbus, Curtis McKay, and Austin McKay.

Due to the significantly increased number of entries in the third edition, the Dakota dialect variants are no longer provided in the book version but continue to be offered in the New Lakota Dictionary apps.

Lakota language learners & teachers

Since the publication of the first edition, there has been a growing number of second language learners and teachers of the language who have been in touch with the editor and who helped with this project in various ways such as the following: by sending comments about possible typos or other problems in the existing editions, by engaging in helpful discussions (in classrooms or on-line) regarding all aspects of the dictionary, by providing constructive criticism and feedback on the usability of the content, layout and other features of the dictionary, and by pointing out undocumented words they encountered while reading texts or during conversations with fluent speakers. They have also been making specific requests to the neologism committee to coin new words needed for immersion schools, parenting or their own language use.

The following alphabetical list is not exhaustive as there have likely been others during the previous fifteen years who contributed to the dictionary in similar ways: Monique Apple, Duane Baldwin, Jessi Bean, Joe Bendickson (Šišóka Dúta), Kevin Berg, Shania Black Bear, Marion Blue Arm, Amanda Carlow, Lora Catches, Sierra Concha, Travis Condon, Leslie Ducheneaux, Joshua Dunn, Alex Fire Thunder, Otto Cuny, Anpao Duta Flying Earth, Dawn Frank, Bino Garcia, Don Grey Day, Savannah Greseth, Elijah Hopkins, Peter Hill, Robert Johnson, Tama Iatala, Naomi Last Horse, Destiny Leftwich, the late Kevin Locke, Joseph Luger, Michael Moore, Cherella Pearl Hughes, Jamie Marquez-Bratcher, Matt Rama, Matt Remle, Petra Reyna, Karli Rouse, Rick Rouse, Michael Rossi, Daniel Seré, Claire Thomson, Heather Thomson, Tipiziwin Tolman, T Tolman, John Vander Veer, Tom Webster, Nacole Walker, Sacheen White Tail Cross, Allen Wilson, Mary Wilson, Corey Yellow Boy, Courtney Yellow Fat, and many others.

Linguists, researchers, & archivists

Linguists Robert Van Valin, David Rood, Armik Mirzayan, Willem de Reuse and Kim Campbell engaged with the editor in highly enlightening discussions regarding Lakota morpho-syntax and other aspects of Lakota grammar. David Rood also shared the Lakota language recordings from his fieldwork conducted in the 1970s to be used as data in this project. Willem de Reuse also provided very helpful comments on an earlier version of the grammar section written for the third edition. Regina Pustet offered her valuable collection of audio recordings with Lakota narratives to be used as data for this dictionary. Raymond de Mallie enabled the editor to access some of the recordings he had collected during his fieldwork in the 1970s. Numerous linguists and lexicographers associated with The Language Conservancy have participated in discussions regarding various lexicographic and technical aspects of the project. Among others, they were Dorothea Hoffman, Bob Rough, Marek Kupiec, and others.

This dictionary also benefited from the activities of community members who conducted valuable language documentation and who made their data accessible. Among these are the following people: the late Kevin Locke from Standing Rock made many recordings of elders during the 1960s and 70s. Travis Condon from Standing Rock and Peter Hill from Pine Ridge recorded many narratives from Native Speakers and made them available as data sources for this project. Alex Fire Thunder from Pine Ridge recorded numerous interviews with native speakers and shared his recordings with the editor and with the public. Alex Fire Thunder and Allen Wilson also pointed out previously undocumented words that they heard from their fluent parents or other Native Speakers. The KILI radio station in the Pine Ridge community aired a large amount of content with Lakota language speeches. Many episodes of the KILI radio Sunday Morning Lakota hour hosted by Robert Two Crow and Bryan Charging Cloud have been recorded by Ken Kalloch and made accessible in his online archive, an extremely valuable resource.

People Who Provided Editorial, Technical, & Logistical Assistance

Editorial assistance was provided by the following people: Marek Kupiec assisted with numerous editorial tasks for the third edition and for two or three of the most recent app versions. His meticulous attention to detail is immensely appreciated. The late Nina Webster provided an enormous amount of assistance during the editorial process that went into all three editions. Kevin Berg from Rosebud helped proofread numerous sections of the dictionary as well the grammar for the third edition. David E. Smith supported the project by organizing various linguistic data important to the development of the dictionary.

Invaluable technical assistance was provided by Constantine Chmielnicki who created software tools that helped with various editorial tasks, with database maintenance, exports, consistency checks, as well as tools for morpho-parsing, generating conjugated forms and lemmatization. Elliot Thornton, an IT specialist from The Language Conservancy provided much appreciated technical support for a number of database tasks. We also thank Karen and Alan Buseman from SIL International who provided support for our work with the Field Linguist’s Toolbox, a software utility in which the database has been edited and maintained from the start of the project.

This project would not have been possible without the support from the Lakota Language Consortium personnel, especially from Wilhelm Meya, without whose hard work, perseverance, and vision it would not have been possible to conduct an endeavor of this magnitude, both logistically and financially.

Lakota Language Consortium Board Members, past & present

This dictionary owes much gratitude to the Lakota Language Consortium board members, both past and present, who were the decision-makers that made the project possible in the first place and who continually supported it over the many years of its development. They are the late Johnson Holy Rock, Richard Two Dogs, Wilson Two Lance, the late Leonard Little Finger, Richard Broken Nose, all from Pine Ridge, Ben Black Bear, Jr., and Yvonne Russo from Rosebud, Iris Eagle Chasing from Cheyenne River, Travis Condon, the late Kevin Locke and Tipiziwin Tolman from Standing Rock, and Joe Bendickson from Lake Traverse Reservation.


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