South Dakota Advances Native Language Recognition Bill

“By passing this bill, you will let them know that who they are and the language they speak is not only recognized but celebrated.” Elyssa Sierra Concha

February 8th, 2019 – Pierre, SD – On February 8th, the South Dakota Senate State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill that would recognize the language of the Oceti Sakowin as the Indigenous language of the state.

Senate Bill 126, SB 126, if passed would state , “The official indigenous language of the state is the language of the O’ceti Sakowin, Seven Council Fires, also known by treaty as the Great Sioux Nation, comprised of three dialects, Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota.”

The bill’s sponsor, Troy Heinert (D), stated that the measure is one of the biggest bills he’s brought during his time in the Legislature. Heinert is a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Elyssa Sierra Concha, a Lakota language teacher at the Red Cloud Indian School, expressed at the hearing, “I want them [the children] to grow up knowing that their state is fully behind them and who they are as indigenous people.”

The bill passed the Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously and now goes to the State Senate for a hearing.

Listen to testimony here

Cover art by Chameleon Horse art & design

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