STANTON, ND (KXNET) – – Oral traditions of our Native American tribes have been a part of North Dakota’s culture for centuries. And today, Native language experts met at the Knife River Indian Village to talk about saving their native languages.

Members from MHA Nation and our surrounding communities came together to discuss the importance of saving languages. Since many of our state’s native languages have not been written down, our community leaders are trying to teach these languages to the next generation. Dr. Lanny Real Bird teaches language at Little Big Horn College. He has developed multimedia teaching materials for Crow and our MHA nation’s languages. He is also an expert in Plains Indian Sign Language.

“We talk in sign language. What little we know, maybe someone from the Dakotas maybe somebody from the Mandans would come together like that. Whatever little piece they know in their language that they would share,” says Dr. Lanny Real Bird.

Plains Indian Sign Language is an endangered language but is active in many indigenous regions of North America. Some tribal nations use sign language as a complement to their own language.