I’atala, who is part Lakota and lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has a solution: Have his children, including his 17-month-old son, learn the language.
“I don’t want my kids to grow up without that sense of pride of who they are,” said I’atala, 36.
I’atala is part of a small group of people on the reservation trying to start a Lakota language-immersion daycare for infants in hopes of increasing the number of people fluent in the language and, ultimately, strengthening the Lakota culture.
By Kristi Eaton
Hill, who is fluent in Lakota after learning it as a second language, said he wanted Charlotte to learn the American Indian language from the start.
"By virtue of that ... in terms of understanding, (she is) completely and equally fluent in both English and Lakota," the proud father and Lakota instructor said.
Now the Pine Ridge S.D., man plans to start an immersion day care to get other infants speaking fluent Lakota early. His is part of a wave of projects targeting younger children in an effort to revitalize the language of Lakota, which is spoken primarily by Sioux Native Americans in North and South Dakota.