Three Language Institutes Begin Today

This is a historic week at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, ND, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

The campus is bustling as three Summer Institutes begin classes today, for teachers and learners of five endangered Native American languages of the Northern Plains: Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota.

All three Institutes are annual training events offering certified language teachers college credit for study of second-language teaching methods and intensive study of the respective languages.



This is the inaugural year for the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Summer Institute (MHASI), which is part of the MHA Nation Language Preservation Initiative — a systematic, long-term push to create new fluent speakers in all three tribal languages. All of them are severely endangered; Arikara has no living speakers, Mandan has just one, and Hidatsa has several hundred.

MHASI gets its start at Sitting Bull and will transfer permanently to Fort Berthold Community College in 2015, at the MHA Nation’s home country in Fort Berthold, ND. This first Summer Institute powers up the Initiative’s drive to train, certify and employ more language teachers in MHA Nation schools, and to establish coordinated classroom study using new language-learning materials.

The Conservancy happily congratulates the MHA Nation as they roll out three Level 1 textbooks, for Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.



The Crow Summer Institute (CSI) formally opens this year as a program of the new Crow Language Consortium – but it got going in 2013 when eight Crow language teachers traveled down from Crow Agency, MT to Sitting Bull College for a week’s introduction to their new Level 1 textbook and the Total Physical Response second-language teaching methods.  The CSI is part of the Apsaalooke Curriculum Project of the Crow Tribe. In this first official CSI, more Crow teachers are gathered to familiarize themselves with the Biiluukaalilaah! Speak Crow! Level 1 curriculum, and solidify a community network with their colleagues in language education.



The Lakota Summer Institute (LSI) is in its eighth year as a program of the Lakota Language Consortium, and this year introduces its teacher participants to the Lakȟótiya Wóglaka Po! Speak Lakota! Level 5 Textbook.   This is the turning-point text of the K-12 curriculum that has been adopted by the Crow and MHA Nation projects. When a learner has completed and mastered the Level 5 instruction units, they can be considered proficient in the language, with listening, speaking and grammar skills that allow them to initiate and hold conversations.

The Conservancy is delighted to congratulate all of the Lakota language teachers who have made it this far, bringing their classes up to the threshold of a new proficiency, putting fluency within reach of young Lakota.

The CSI and MHASI both run for this first week of June.  Next Monday we will send out a wrap up of the Institutes’ activities and achievements.

We will also send out a mid-month update on the three-week LSI, with a wrap up post on June 23, after the Institute closes on June 20.

About the Author