Native Speakers Meet the Linguists

The 33rd Annual Siouan-Caddoan Languages Conference met at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, ND, on June 13-15, concurrent with the Lakota Summer Institute. This annual conference of linguistic scholars, teachers and students – specializing in Native American and Canadian languages such as Lakota-Dakota, Crow, Hidatsa and Mandan – moves around the Plains region for its meetings.  Last year the conference was in Kansas, the 2011 meeting was in Oklahoma, and next year’s meeting will be in Madison, Wisconsin. This year the association was persuaded to land in Fort Yates, in the thick of the Lakota language revitalization movement.

The opportunity for academic linguists to mix with native speakers, teachers and students was an unusual one.  Since the conference took place over a weekend as LSI took a break, LSI attendees packed the conference events, especially during presentations by members of the Lakota Language Consortium Board of Directors.  Kevin Locke (Hunkpapa Lakota & Anishinabe) spoke on the literary tradition of Lakota song (“Wiíkižo olówaŋ”) and Ben Black Bear (Sicangu Lakota) described how Lakota functions as a modern language (“Lakota Neologisms – Coining New Terms for the 21st Century”). LLC Linguistic Director Jan Ullrich kept it linguistic with his talk, “Revisiting the Lakota Dative Affixes ki- and kiči-.”