A new American Indian language app hit the iTunes store January 20 that features translations of animal names from English to Diné, Lakota, Mvskoke and Ponca. The menu screen offers a choice of four languages. Once a language is chosen, a short list of animals appears from which to choose.
Developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, “Native Words, Native Warriors” shares the stories of the code talkers, U.S. military soldiers who came from more than a dozen Native American tribes.
Jessie and her classmates are part of a kindergarten through second grade immersion school committed to reviving the Lakota language. Lakota is part of the "Dakota" language group, the third most commonly spoken Native American language in the country, but new Census estimates indicate fewer than 19,000 people still speak it. More than 10,000 of the nation's Dakota speakers live in South Dakota.
Even though statistics say Native American languages are endangered and the U.S. Census says there are less than half a million speakers of Native languages in the country, there were a number of advancements in language revitalization and preservation throughout the year, a sampling of those are noted here:
Sixty-five percent of tribal language speakers live in just three states -- Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico. Nine counties within the three states contain half the nation's tribal language speakers, the report said.
The Dakota language is at a crisis point right now; one CHAT member estimates there are only five fluent Dakota speakers left in the state of MN. The vision of the CHAT was that Dakota children learn their language at an early age, and their strategy was to start a day care for young children where they would be immersed in the Dakota language.
...Bendickson, 33, who teaches at the University of Minnesota and for the Concordia Language Village program, is among those working to learn and teach Dakota. He aims to preserve and revive not just the language but also the Dakota culture and way of life.
The fifth Lakota Summer Institute—held June 6 to 24—took 74 participants on a language learning journey. “These three weeks always deliver a transformative amount of information,” said Lakota Language Consortium (LLC) Executive Director Will Meya in a press release.
MORTON, Minn. – From a park picnic table a woman named Ruby watches her 12-year-old granddaughter, Shayla, answer a reporter's questions. They are mostly one-word answers. Are you having fun learning the Dakota language? "Yes." Is it hard? "No." What's the hardest part? "Sentences."
In an attempt to preserve endangered indigenous dialects such as Lakota and Ho Chunk, South Dakota-based programmer Biagio Arobba has built LiveAndTell, a user-generated content site for sharing and learning Native languages. It can work for any language, but his passion is to preserve the endangered tongues you won't find in textbooks, language programs, or widely taught in classrooms.
MORTON, Minn. -- The words date back to a time in Minnesota when English was a foreign language -- when the prairies, the sun, and the wind were described in Dakota. This summer the Dakota language is being spoken at a park in Renville County; passed on at a day-camp to a new generation of young speakers. It is not unlike the early stages of the bald eagle's flight back from near extinction.
32-year-old South Dakotan Biagio Arobba has created LiveandTell, “a user-generated content site for documenting and learning rare languages.” The site is more, says GOOD magazine, like a social network site than Wikipedia, as users can upload photos and multiple audio files (containing the pronunciation of a word in Lakota, for instance) and text.
...He is the founder and director of Sacred Hoop School, a private Lakota language school where students are taught their native language using total immersion on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“English only” should be deeply offensive to anyone who values and takes pride in their Native American identity. Our language is who we are and what helps to distinguish a tribe from a business corporation. As our blood thins, it will take more than being “a card carrying Indian” to be Indian.