The Lakota Summer Institute is a joint venture of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Sitting Bull College, and the Lakota Language Consortium. For 8 years, this three-week program in North Dakota has brought together students and teachers from across the world. LSI offers classes on all levels, from beginners with no experience to native speakers wishing to learn more about the complex language they have spoken since birth.
These pictures, taken over three years, show the hard work of language revitalization that takes place in the classroom, the theater, and in cultural ceremonies.
During one LSI session, writers and actors collaborated on an original play written entirely in Lakota. The result was Iktomi’s Raccoon Hat, one of the first plays to be presented in the Lakota language for more than a century.
In another session, the teacher and magician Reuben Fast Horse presented his magic act in both English and Lakota.
At LSI people from other countries have come to LSI to share their stories of language revitalization. In 2012, members of New Zealand’s Institute for Excellence in the Maori Language came to Lakota Country. They were interviewed at KILI Radio, they visited the Wounded Knee Memorial in South Dakota, and then the group spent two days taking classes at the LSI.