Tusweca Tiospaye, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and strengthening of the Lakota language, recently sponsored a language summit that drew thousands of participants from as far away as New Zealand. The event took place November 18-20 in Rapid City, South Dakota and was geared towards educators and others involved in the education system as well as parents, Tribal Councils, elders, community members, and anyone working to teach or learn a native language.
Participants of Lakota Dakota Nakota Language Summit 2010 were treated to a variety of sessions ranging from one featuring the screening of a Berenstain Bears cartoon dubbed in Lakota to be shown on South Dakota Public Television to another based around Dakota prisoner of war letters from the 1862 Dakota Minnesota War.
History and its impact on language was an important theme for the summit, with several of the sessions addressing historical traumas, including the mass hanging of 38 Dakota men by the US Government following the Dakota Minnesota War. Keynote speaker Albert White Hat lamented forced assimilation through Jesuit religion and boarding schools and urged a return to traditional values. He also cautioned that words hold power, and stressed the importance of using care in how language is taught.
This past summit is one of a number of events including powwows, youth summits, culture camps and hand-game tournaments that have been hosted by Tusweca Tiospaye in the past several years as part of their mission to “develop a strong, healthy, and prosperous environment in which Lakota children and their families can learn and incorporate the Lakota language into their daily lives.” For upcoming events see their website at http://www.tuswecatiospaye.org/home. For more information on the language summit that took place in November see the repost of Native Sun News’ coverage of the event on Indianz.com.