Oceti Wakan’s goal was to break the existing barrier of less than 2% of our young people understanding or speaking the Lakota language. We have machines at stations in the back of classrooms where children go and put on headphones and learn to speak Lakota words and phrases each week. At Porcupine School, they have used our program for the last four years.
We can honestly say that over 90% of the children there know from three to 33 sentences that they can use talking to each other. Oglala Lakota College had a Lakota Speakers Contest November 2015 and even though only our students from K-3 were able to compete (the school had to rush students back to school because of high winds) with our other 23 schools, our students were awarded the overall trophy for best speakers. The amazing thing is our older students are even better. Our program works! ANA initially funded this project to make it a reality. We have no funding now for this but we are doing all that we can to get elders in there working with students to learn Lakota. We found the more time they spend on these language machines, the more Lakota they learn and feel good about speaking with others.
We believe one of the keys to restoring and preserving a culture is through language.