Lakota language fluency at a crossroads - KOTA Territory News

Lakota language fluency at a crossroads

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Tradition. It's of the utmost importance to the Lakota culture. But the Lakota language is in danger of becoming an afterthought.

"And then I found out that 9 out of 10 did not speak...did not know. It woke me up and I said 'well we have to do something before we lose it,' " said Bryant High Horse, Indian Education teacher with Rapid City Area Schools.

And the revitalization of the language begins with teaching it to children.  "Ya know if we can get the children immersed in the their language where their speaking it, hearing it, using it daily and in real life situations so I think that's going to have to be our starting point," said Mike Carlow, Organizer of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Language Summit.

And Bryant High Horse is taking this issue challenge on teaching Lakota to 15 students at Horace Mann Elementary. "If we use the Lakota language as well as English to help the children read, it stimulates their mind. And they start reading quickly. There was a young man and he was so excited that he could read and so he just moved up reading levels and now he has no problem reading," said High Horse.

If the language is to be preserved, Carlow says the work starts now.  "Whether people want to admit it or look at it that way or not, we're really in a dire situation with our language," said Carlow.

"And if we don't stop and think about the importance of it, these kids are going to greatly suffer," said High Horse. 

"Ya know the only way to save a language is to teach it to a child. And that's something I fully believe in and work really hard at," said Carlow.

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