The new year will be marking what hopefully will become a new trend in institutes of higher learning. Both the University of South Dakota (USD) and Sitting Bull College (SBC) in North Dakota have announced the launching of bachelor degree programs in Lakota language teaching and learning. Those successfully completing the two year curriculum will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Education from USD or a Bachelor of Science in Education from SBC and will leave the program with the skills and credentials needed to teach Lakota professionally.
These programs are the first of their kind, and follow what appears to be an increased interest in the introduction of Indigenous language learning programs in schools in states with significant American Indian populations. Michigan and California, for example, have both recently overcome bureaucratic hassles to implement Indigenous language classes in select high schools.
The programs at USD and SBC will be funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education and overseen by the Lakota Language Education Program. Language activists are hopeful that these degree programs will help ensure the preservation and revitalization of the Lakota language and will also serve as a model for other language programs. For more information see Rapid City Journal’s November 15 article here.