Native Language Learning Strategies: Táku Waƞláke hwo/he? What do you see? by: Matt Remle*

On this page, and elsewhere, much has been said regarding the importance of knowing our traditional and respective Native languages and understanding how languages defined the worldviews of our Nations. Much has also been said regarding the horrific ways in which settler societies worked to eliminate our languages, and way of life, from us.

Less has been shared about the different strategies we can utilize to relearn, re-speak and bring our languages back to the point of fluency. We, LRInspire, would like to help change that.

Often, we get stuck in a place of anger, an anger much deserved, or a place of complacency about how to move forward with Native language learning and revitalization. In some cases, and communities, it can be frustrating and overwhelming. Some communities may lack fluent speakers, or only have a few remaining fluent speakers. Even in communities where there are fluent speakers often times because of colonization and the direct impacts and influence of missionaries the meanings of our words and languages have been altered.

Despite these often seemingly insurmountable barriers to relearning and revitalizing our Native languages we simply owe it to our ancestors, current and future generations to put forth our most solid efforts to do so.

Here at LRInspire and Last Real Indians, we are solidly committed to a Turtle Island wide re-emergence of our various traditional languages. Together we can utilize each other in developing and sharing strategies to accomplish this feat. We will be sharing on this page various ideas you can implement in your homes, schools and communities.

Let us honor who we are and who we are meant to be and fill Turtle Island with the beautiful sounds of our traditional languages.

The following activity I use with my hoksilapi (boys), who are learning our Lakota language.

Táku waƞláke hwo/he? (What do you see? m/f)

For this activity, I told my boys that we are going on an outdoor adventure. I gave each of them a notebook and asked them to either write, or draw, what they think they will see, or find, on our adventure, which in this case was a kid friendly hike in the woods. Then we go over the different animals, plants, or whatever else they may put down, in Lakota. This is a good way to introduce, or reinforce, vocabulary.

On the hike, they carried their notebooks like a field journal and would check off what they found. As they checked items off, I would ask “Táku waƞláke hwo/he? ” and they would reply, for example, “kimímela waƞ waƞbláke” (I see a butterfly).

Throughout the hike I would ask “Táku waƞláke yačhíƞ hwo?” (What do you want to see?) and they would reply, for example “Waƞblí waƞ waƞbláke wačhíƞ.” (I want to see an eagle).

At the end of the hike, I had each of them go over each item that they saw in Lakota.

This is a simple, yet fun way to get your young ones outdoors and experience it through their traditional language.

Táku waƞláke hwo/he? (What do you see? m/f)

kimímela waƞ waƞbláke. (kimímela waƞ waƞbláke.)

Táku waƞláke yačhíƞ hwo? (what do you want to see?)

Waƞblí waƞ waƞbláke wačhíƞ. (I want to see an eagle).

Mitakuye oyasin

Wakinyan Wa’anatan (Matt Remle)






*This is a revision from an earlier version to include audio.

**Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of LRInspire

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