The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux tribe recently awarded the Oglala Lakota College a grant to help fund the school’s Lakota language immersion program.
“The way it works is that you have to immerse the children so that the only thing they speak is their native language.” Thomas Shortbull
The Oglala Lakota College, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation, received a $25,000 grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community to help fund its Lakota language immersion program. The grant will help pay for operations for the college’s Lakota Woglaka Wounspe immersion school which serves about 40 students grades kindergarten to fifth grade.
According to Oglala Lakota College President Thomas Shortbull, the program started 5 years ago when elders from Pine Ridge told him to do something about the loss of the language.
In an interview with SDPB radio Shortbull stated:
“In the age group of 4-6, only 5 percent are speaking the language ,and those over 80 are speaking at about 80 percent. So in another 50 to 100 years we could lose the language. That’s the reason we started the language immersion program, so we can get more of our young people speaking the language.”