Our People

Leaders, Educators, Visionaries

LLC Board Members

Lakota Language Consortium’s Board of Directors brings a wealth of talent, determination, and compassion to the Lakota language movement. LLC’s Board is made up of individuals dedicated to the cause and committed to expanding access to support for the language. It is our mission to honor the past and protect the future of Lakȟótiyapi .

Ben Black Bear Jr.

Sičháŋǧu Lakȟóta | Board Vice Chairman | Since 2008

Ben is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is the current Director of Indian Studies for the St. Francis Mission. He is the former Executive Director of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Tribal Land Enterprise and Tribal Vice President. As a fluent native speaker of Lakota and early Director of the Lakota Language Department at Siŋté Glešká University, he has been involved with various aspects of the Lakota language teaching for five decades. He has set out to produce language materials to be used to document and teach the Lakota language and after five decades of work he has accomplished what he has intended to do. 

Hmuya Mani “Walks with A Roaring” Richard Two Dogs

Oglála Lakȟóta | Board Member | Since 2021

Richard is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and serves as adjunct faculty for the Oglala Lakota College. He has served on the Board of Directors of KILI Radio and for the former Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc. (“The Children First”), a nonprofit culturally-based children’s and family mental health organization. He performs volunteer service on the Board of Directors of the Tiyospaye Sakowin Education and Healing Center, Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization and also with Tasunke Wakan Okolakiciye (Medicine Horse Society). For more than three decades he has provided Lakota cultural services to many tribal nations in the United States and Canada. He has extensive experience in development and training in the areas of Lakota mental health and wellness, Lakota language revitalization, cultural competency, child and family development and individual/family healing.

Travis Condon

Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna and Mnikȟówožu | Board Member | Since 2010

Travis Condon, PharmD, joined the LLC board in 2010. He is Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna and Mnikȟówožu and has studied Lakota for years. He speaks Lakota to his clients at the Standing Rock Health Center and to his three young children. His youngest son’s first spoken word was Lakota.

Joe Bendickson (Šišókaduta)

Dakhóta iápi Okhódakičhiye | Board Member | Since 2010

Šišóka Dúta is an enrolled member of the Lake Traverse Reservation. He is a Dakȟóta language instructor at University of Minnesota (UMN) and is currently the board chair of Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye (DIO), a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to revitalizing the D dialect. He has spent the last 23 years learning the Dakota language and has grown up hearing the words and phrases from his grandparents and those around him. His curiosity as a teenager lead to his passion in Dakota language that encouraged him to enroll in Dakota language classes at the UMN. His early curiosity has inspired a strong relation to UMN encouraging students who sat where he once was as a learner. His job allows him to increase his knowledge and fluency through daily use of the language in classes.

Iris Eagle Chasing

Cheyenne River | Board Member | Since 2011

Iris Eagle Chasing is a Lakota language teacher at Takini School in Howes, SD, on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. A grandmother and dedicated language activist, she has recorded female-voice Lakota speech for the New Lakota Dictionary-Online Audio project.

Tipiziwin Tolman

Sihasapa, Hunkpapȟa Lakȟota, Wičhiyena and Tizaptaŋna Dakȟota | Board Chair | Since 2022

Tipiziwin is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Currently she is a Doctoral Student at Washington State University’s College of Education’s Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education PhD program and is finishing her Masters of Indigenous Language Revitalization at the University of Victoria. Dedicating her life to addressing language and healthcare disparities she also serves as a research assistant supporting Nez Perce community language revitalization and on the National Academies of Medicine’s Culture of Health Program Advisory Committee. Tipiziwin is the co-owner of “Haípažaža Pȟežúta” making hot process soaps & bath & body products using good medicines from plant relatives Within her lived experience as an Indigenous scholar, Tribal Language Revitalization & Lakota Language Advocate and former Lakota Language immersion instructor, she is a living witness that Tribal Language & Education rooted in Indigenous Pedagogy, are the key and leading social determinants of health for tribal members and tribal communities across the United States.

Alex Fire Thunder - Executive Director Lakota Language Consortium

Alex FireThunder

Oglála Lakȟóta | Executive Director and Board Member | Since 2022

Alex FireThunder is the Executive Director at Lakota Language Consortium. As an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Alex brings a wealth of experience to his role, holding a BSW in Social Work, MA in Lakota Leadership, and a Lakota Language Certificate from Oglala Lakota College. A seasoned educator, Alex taught Lakota for four years at Little Wound School and has been a vital part of the Lakota Language Consortium since 2017. A musician and NAMMY award-winning song composer, he founded Hóyeya, a platform for promoting Lakota language content. Alex believes in the transformative power of language in shaping a strong Lakota identity. Before serving as Executive Director, Alex served as Deputy Director both roles allow him to serve and make broad impact in our Lakota communities.

Jan Ullrich

Linguistic Director and Board Member | Since 2004

Jan Ullrich, Ph.D., brings over 30 years of experience in language documentation, language analysis, curriculum development and teacher-training to his leadership of LLC’s Lakota language revitalization work.

Past Board Members:

Leonard Little Finger – Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe (2004-2008)
Richard Broken Nose – Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe (2004-2008)
Johnson Holy Rock – Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe (2004-2010)
David Rood – Linguist (2004-2009)
Wilson (Buzzi) Two Lance  – Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe (2004-2010)
Yvonne Russo – Rosebud Sioux Tribe (2018-2022)
Kevin Locke – Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (2009-2017, 2022)
Wilhem Meya – (2004 – 2024)


The Lakota Language Consortium is INCREASING the number of Lakota speakers by providing new language materials, training teachers, and promoting language revitalization across the region. Check out our latest efforts!

take action