Lakota Language Making a Comeback - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Lakota Language Making a Comeback

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Native Americans have had to watch their culture slowly die off.
A program at Sitting Bull College is taking steps to preserve the Lakota/Dakota heritage--and it is finding success.
Ben Smith brings us the story of a tribe who is trying to save their tradition for future generations.

A nation's culture is in jeopardy.
"Our language is dying off..." says Sunshine Carlow
Something that was passed on...from generation to generation.
"It's who we are, there's a connection to our past, to our traditions...who we are as a people"
But this connection is in danger of being broken.
Sunshine Carlow says her parents and grandparents were taught to be ashamed of the speaking the Lakota/Dakota language.
Because of that, their children have not continued the tradition.
"We went door to door and did surveys in all of our communities on Standing Rock and we didn't have at that time in 2010 any children speakers."
So the Lakota Summer Institute is taking steps to revive the language.
"We have something for everybody, we have intensive for beginner classes if you have never spoken our language, we have something you can start out with.  We have classes for fluent speakers...we also have the classes for teachers so teaching methods classes."
Waniya Locke just finished the Lakota Language Education Action program with a degree in native studies.
"What is in danger is not the language, its Lakota thought." says Waniya Locke
She says what's at risk, is her nation's since of identity.
"It really reveals who you are... there is a sense of pride, there is a sense of acknowledgement, there is a sense of worth and it does bring you to a whole new stature."
says Locke
"We love our language, we want our language to continue, it's who we are, its our culture, it's our people, it's a place of home for us."
Taking these classes has brought her home.
"For me, learning my language, has brought me a peace...emotionally, spiritually, educationally, and that's how you heal people."
LSI classes have grown from 20 to well over 100 students. 
Reporting in Fort Yates, Ben Smith, KXNews

Locke says rather than focusing on fluent speakers, the LSI has found success because they're focusing on secondary language learners, and Waniya says that is what's going to preserve Lakota language.
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