The Ken Hale Prize
In 2006, LLC took home the Ken Hale Prize. Below is an article on the event from the Herald-Times of Bloomington, Indiana - LLC's base of operations.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Lakota Language Consortium (LLC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the Lakota Sioux language, was awarded the prestigious Ken Hale Prize by the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) last Saturday, January 7th at the Linguistic Society of America meeting in Albuquerque. The prize and cash award were presented in recognition of the organization's outstanding community language work and deep commitment to the documentation, maintenance, promotion, and revitalization of the Lakota languag- one the country's largest remaining Native American languages.
Named after the renowned MIT linguist, the Ken Hale Prize recognizes the LLC's close work with the Lakota language community and its efforts to save and revitalize the language. As this country's leading prize for language revitalization work, it honors those who strive to link the academic and community spheres in the spirit of Ken Hale.
Pam Bunte, SSILA committee chairperson, described the factors that led to the decision, "We were really impressed." "The Lakota Language Consortium has done a great job with their documentation. Their materials have made it easier for community members to teach the language." "They work closely with many throughout the community and the praise of their efforts was truly amazing."
Wilhelm Meya, a co-founder of the group, has been working with Lakota language revitalization since 1994. He said, "we feel honored to be associated with the outstanding life and work of Ken Hale and will strive to have a measurable impact on Native American languages and continue in his exemplary tradition." He noted that, "the Ken Hale Prize is a welcome boost in an often difficult struggle balancing all the needs of a revitalization project"
Linguistic Director, Jan Ullrich, led the organization's materials development work. Ullrich pointed out that, "revitalizing a language is by no means an easy task and SSILA's support of these efforts plays an important role in helping to educate the public about the state of endangered languages and the needs of indigenous peoples."
Meya accepted the prize on behalf of the Board of Directors. In accepting the prize, Meya explained that, "the recognition of our work to revitalize Lakota will mean a great deal to the communities we serve, the teachers, and the numerous volunteers working to create the first generation of proficient Lakota speakers in fifty years."
The Lakota Language Consortium is made up of numerous committed community members and linguists. As one of the largest language revitalization organizations in the country, its materials are used by over twenty-two school systems and exposes over 4000 children to the Lakota language. Native American language loss is an enormous, though silent crisis and the LLC is at the forefront of producing effective language materials that help Native communities in their struggle to rebuild their languages.
Bunte, who is a professor at California State University, expressed the hope that the SSILA prize would enhance and contribute to prestige of the project. "This was something that really needed to be rewarded." "They really showed what Ken Hale stood for."
Celebrating the New Lakota Dictionary
The publication of the first edition of the New Lakota Dictionary in 2008 was an historic event for the tribe and for LLC. Read about the celebration for NLD contributor's in the Lakota Country Times.
RAPID CITY - "Wow", said Johnson Holy Rock, an elder, past tribal president and contributor to the New Lakota Dictionary, "it is finally done, it is here, fantastic."
After more than 20 years of work and the contributions of over 300 Lakota and Dakota speakers, the New Lakota Dictionary has been published and is being distributed throughout Lakota country and beyond. As a formal book release and for the many people who contributed, who read and proof read and offered valuable insight into a new dictionary, there will be a reception for them and open to the public at Prairie Edge in Rapid City, Friday, July 18 at 3 p.m..
"The new Lakota Dictionary is a breakthrough in contemporary Native American language studies," said Bill Powers, author of Sacred Language: The Nature of Supernatural Discourse in Lakota, "this publication revolutionizes what we understand about the historical development of Lakota and Dakota dialects while clarifying many problems found in earlier lexical works; this is much needed and innovative."
The 1,112 page book features a 90 page Lakota grammar section, background material on the Lakota language and history of Lakota lexicography and includes 20,000 words with over 40,000 example sentences, usage notes and collocations with special marks denoting the 1,000 most important and most used Lakota words and the next 2,000 important and used words.
The book is actually published by the Lakota Language Consortium, a non profit located in Indiana and dedicated to the re-vitalization of the Lakota language through the publication of educational materials, teacher training and other educational services. A number of nonprofits and tribal entities helped pay for the actual printing. It is available at Prairie Edge in Rapid City, any national bookseller, wholesale from Baker and Taylor or online at www.lakhota.org.
The New Lakota Dictionary had its beginning back in the 1800s and has used all of the publications that have been published in the 19th and 20th centuries as a resource; Jan Ullrich started gathering words and expressions in the mid 1980's and started entering both those words and the historical publications into a data base. Jan lived with families in Indian Country in 1992 and 1993 working with Native speakers to check data and add new material.
Missionary brothers Samuel and Gideon Pond were the first to give the Dakota dialect written form as they translated biblical texts into Dakota in the 1830s. Stephen Riggs and Dr. Thomas Williamson later followed up on their work with Grammar and Dictionary of the Dakota Language in 1852. An expanded version of the dictionary was published in 1892 as Dakota-English Dictionary. John P. Williamson, Williamson's son, published an English-Dakota Dictionary. In 1904, Rev. E.D. Perrig completed a typescript "An English-Lakota Dictionary.
Playing a major role in the history and development Lakota linguistics and lexicography, Ella Deloria, in collaboration with Franz Boas, published Grammar of the Lakota in 1941 and her work provided the foundation of Rood and Taylor's educational materials out of the University of Colorado.
Fr. Eugene Buechel spent most of his life from 1902 to 1954 on Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations learning the language and gathering words and meanings, as many as 24,000. He passed away in 1954 and Fr. Paul Manhart published Buechel's work in 1970 as A Dictionary of the Teton Dakota Sioux language. Buechel had published a Bible History in the Language of the Sioux Teton Indians in 1924.
"Rudy Fire Thunder in 1992 and John Around Him in 1993 helped provide word meanings and example sentences and broader contexts for the word usage," said Ullrich, "over the years so many people helped with the dictionary, probably over 300 speakers."
According to Ullrich, some of the contributors who helped preserve the language for generations to come included Calvin Jumping Bull, Johnson Holy Rock, Ben Black Bear Jr., Delores Taken Alive, Darlene Last Horse, Wilmer Mesteth, Kayo Bad Heart Bull, David West, Etta Little Thunder, Mel and Everett Lone Hill, Stanley and Arvol Looking Horse and Robert Two Crow.
Last month a summer language institute was held in Ft. Yates at Sitting Bull College for Lakota language teachers. Some of the comments made by the students included, "The standardization of the writing of Lakota words is absolutely critical to the revival, survival and maintenance of a language such as Lakota; both teachers, students and the public can benefit from this Lakota dictionary.
Although I am a fluent speaker, I feel I do not know everything I should about the language before our elders leave us; the dictionary holds much wisdom from our elders; there is a wealth of information in the dictionary to learn about and to teach our students. It is a valuable teaching tool and I hope that it will be made available to all of the Oyate who truly want to learn this beautiful language."
There are still so many questions swirling around the language, how do we build a national language? What is the best way to teach the language?
What is the best orthography? Are second language learners in the best position to teach the language? How is it that it is two non-Indians coordinating the project? What is the best way to get the next generation to take ownership of the language?
"Using Lakota honors the memory of our ancestors and if we hold onto our language, we will know who we are and we will know where we are going in the future," said Johnson Holy Rock, Ben Black Bear Jr, and Delores Taken Alive in the opening words of the new dictionary, "with this dictionary the next generation can carry the language on, we know that our children and grandchildren can learn Lakota language from it-if you are proud to be Lakota, you should also be proud to speak the language and learn it properly.
With this dictionary, we have come full circle and where we can once again stand as a people."