Lakota Language Podcast

Wičháho Blihélya

A Podcast in the Lakota Language


Welcome to Wičháho Blihélya – A Podcast in the Lakota Language. Co-hosts Alex FireThunder and Robert Two Crow both reside on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Bridging the gap between their generations, and between first and second language Lakota speakers, they explore various topics pertaining to life in Lakota country in 2023.

Each episode also features other Lakota speakers weighing in on the topic, presenting the listener with a variety of perspectives and voices. This podcast is intended to serve three major purposes: language preservation via documentation of the Lakota language as it is spoken by Native speakers and elders, language revitalization via providing interesting and engaging content for language learners to listen to in low-anxiety environments and for teachers to use in classrooms, and finally language maintenance by providing Lakota speakers with a talk show to listen to in their first language.

Episode 1 – Wičháčhaže (Names)

Kicking off the series, episode one of the Wičháho Blihélya podcast explores the histories around some of the last names heard in Lakota communities today. We hear stories about mistranslations and stories of how those names came to be. We also get to hear a few naming songs sung by renown Lakota singer, Ben Iron Hawk (Oglála).

Speakers in this episode include: Edna Plenty Arrows (Oglála), Ben Black Bear (Sičháŋǧu), Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála).

Episode 2 – Wókhiyapi (Courting)

Episode two was recorded in light of Valentine’s Day, modernly celebrated by Lakota people and observed as “Čhaŋté Skúya Aŋpétu” or “Sweet Heart Day”. We discuss the history of traditional Lakota courtship, marriage, values as well as discussing love songs such as the wiówešte olówaŋ. This episode features love songs sung by both Melvin Young Bear (Oglála) and Royal Yellow Hawk (Sičháŋǧu).

Speakers in this episode include: Jerry Yellow Hawk (Cheyenne River), Ben Black Bear (Sičháŋǧu), Theresa Mendoza (Oglála), Clifford Canku (Sisíthuŋwaŋ Dakhóta), Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála).

Episode 3 – Waníyetu (Winter)

This episode was recorded in hopes that it would be the last time we discuss winter weather until far after the coming summer has passed. We spoke with elders who recalled that winter was the time for storytelling, and how these stories have lessons and teachings attached to them. We also heard true stories and memories of one of the worst blizzards in South Dakota history, the 1949 Blizzard. Akhé pȟeží tȟó uŋkálipi kte. We will walk upon green grass again!

Speakers in this episode include: Harriet Brings (Oglála), Edna Plenty Arrows (Oglála), Dellmarie DullKnife-Bradfield (Oglála), Florida Young Bull Bear (Ogála), Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála).

Episode 4 – Ziŋtkála (Birds)

We can finally say that spring has arrived and it’s actually starting to look like it. In this episode we discuss birds, namely the meadowlark who returns in the springtime. We discuss various experiences seeing and hearing these birds speak Lakota, as well as some stories that talk about them as well. We would like to dedicate this episode to the late Kevin Locke who is remembered talking about meadowlarks every spring.

Speakers in this episode include: Florida Young Bull Bear – Jealous Of Him (Oglála), Gerald Yellow Hawk (Cheyenne River), Ben Black Bear Jr (Sičháŋǧu), Clifford Canku (Sisíthuŋwaŋ/Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ Dakhóta), Peter “Pahá” Hill, Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála). We also hear a song titled, “Meadowlark”, played on the flute by the late Kevin Locke.

Episode 5 – Wičháȟpi-Owíŋža (Star Quilts)

As Lakota people, we are all familiar with the sight of beautiful star quilts wrapped around those being honored or draped over a couch or used as curtains in front of windows. In this episode, we visit with various Lakota speakers about their understanding of the history and significance of the star on our quilts. Additionally, some speakers shared stories of receiving their first star quilt, and memories of their mothers quilting. Lastly, we discuss that many students today receive a star quilt at their graduation ceremonies and we wanted to congratulate all of the Classes of 2023 across Lakota country with a Graduation Honoring Song sung by Austin Last Horse.

Speakers in this episode include: Austin Last Horse (Oglála), Imogene Roy (Oglála), Clause Two Elk (Sičháŋǧu), Delmarie Dullknife-Bradfield (Oglála / Šahíyela), Alvon Little Whiteman (Oglála), Andrea Reddest (Oglála), Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála). We also hear a prayer song sung by Robert Two Crow’s great-granddaughter, Elise Gutierrez (Oglála).

Episode 6 – Lakota Summer Institute ektá Wóiȟake Oyákapi (Jokes Told at LSI)

This past June of 2023, we held the Lakota Summer Institute (LSI) in our beautiful Ȟesápa in Rapid City, SD. We partnered with Rural America Initiatives to hold two weeks of intensive Lakota language learning and teacher training. Bringing people together who are passionate about learning, teaching, speaking and advocating for the language is always a beautiful experience. This year, we were so fortunate to have a number of fluent speakers and elders amongst us. During one of the sessions, Rick Two Dogs and Ben Black Bear Jr took turns relaying funny jokes and stories in Lakota. In the room you could see learners and teachers together sharing the medicine of laughter. Amidst the busy summer, the co-hosts for Wičháho Blihélya have not been able to meet to record an episode, however, we wanted to share this glimpse into the joke session that occurred at LSI this year.

Speakers in this episode include: Rick Two Dogs (Oglála), Ben Black Bear JR (Sičháŋǧu), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála).

Episode 7 – Owáyawa (School)

After a busy summer of many types of doings throughout Lakota country, we’re excited to be back with a new episode for the month of September. In this episode, in light of our students returning back to school, we discuss the topic of education. The speakers in this episode related their school experiences to language and tell about a time when certain schools and teachers forbid them from speaking their language. However, we also discuss how these schools have changed and many of them are now teaching the language. All in all, we’d like to encourage all of the students working hard to earn an education, as well as acknowledge all educators who dedicate their careers to helping the future generations.

There is also a plug for the Woksape Tipi – Library and Archives located on the Piya Wiconi Campus at Oglala Lakota College, please feel free to visit them to find Lakota language resources, listen to the raw interviews from this podcast, and speak Lakota with librarian, Darlene Bear Killer.

Speakers in this episode include: Wilber Witt (Oglála), Eugene Black Crow (Oglála), Harriet Bring (Oglála), Darlene Bear Killer (Oglala), Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála).

Episode 8 – Itóǧiŋ Kitȟúŋpi (Halloween)

It’s mid-october, the temperatures are dropping, the leaves are not only changing but also falling, and many of our children throughout Lakota country are getting excited for Halloween. While this holiday is not a traditional holiday in Lakota culture, we do have some spooky stories that have been told for generations. Some of these stories are part of the ohúŋkakaŋ legends often told to children at bedtime. In this episode, we hear some of these stories as they’re remembered by elders. In these stories are scary creatures or characters such as Íya, Hiŋháŋ Káǧa, Hiŋháŋ Ská and wanáǧi. We also talk about the meaning and symbolism behind some of these stories. We’d like to wish everyone a happy and safe spooky season!

Speakers in this episode include: Imogene Roy (Oglála), Leola One Feather (Oglála), Ben Black Bear Jr (Sičháŋǧu), Harriet Bring (Oglála), Wilber Witt (Oglála), Robert Two Crow (Oglála), and Alex FireThunder (Oglála).

Support the show

This podcast was made possible by Hóyeya.

This podcast is a free resource to share the language. If you’d like to support our efforts in providing monetary gifts for the speakers on this podcast you can donate here.

A special wóphila to Shania Black Bear-Searby for our amazing podcast artwork.


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!

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