November 13, 2008

Lakota language summit

Fluent Lakota speakers running out of time

Symposium searches for ways to preserve Native languages.At Tuesday's opening of a three-day summit about revitalizing their languages, the Native American speakers needed English at some point to communicate.

"We're really in a race against time," said Ryan Wilson of the National Alliance to Save Native Languages.

The Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Language Summit: Uniting the Seven Council Fire to Save the Language has brought together a mix of 400 Native American educators, language experts and traditional fluent speakers. They are here to determine how to keep their languages from disappearing.
And:On Wyoming's Wind River Reservation, people in the Arapaho Tribe counted on teaching the language in school, similar to how math and other classes are taught in a system approved by federal and state regulators.

"After 35 years of teaching at Wind River, not one student is a fluent speaker. These methods, ... they're not working," Wilson said.

Wilson said his stepfather saw the answer to capturing fluency by teaching children in a language-immersion school. With Wilson's help, an immersion school was funded, built and opened in 12 months. But it wasn't easy.

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