Study Guide

Full Study Guide for Rising Voices/Hótȟaŋiŋpi Film is available as a Free Downloadable PDF Below

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The study guide has activities for teachers of classes in schools where Lakota is not taught, but also many exercises for teachers in schools that do have required Lakota language classes.

The teacher’s guide has three main sections: Comprehension exercises, expansion activities, and Lakota language exercises.

The first section focuses on helping students gain a refined knowledge of the topics and issues brought up in the PBS film “Rising Voices.” Teachers should assume that students will need to watch the film more than once to catch all of the details asked for in the questions. We therefore suggest that the film be introduced in class. We suggest that teachers go over the first set of questions in exercise 1A (the answers to many of which come early in the film) before viewing. Have students view the film, or at least the first half of the film. Then, they can work in pairs to answer the first section questions.

If you do not have time to show the entire film, you may ask students to decide which questions cannot be answered by the part of the film they saw.

Additional viewings, paired with the other exercises in Section 1, can be assigned as homework. By the end of this series of questions, students should have a good idea of the history of Lakota language in the United States, the changing policies of the US government towards the language, the attitudes and issues on reservations about the Lakota language, and steps being taken to revive the language.

Section 2 exercises are designed to help make Lakota country real for students who live far away, and also to help students gain a deeper appreciation for Lakota history and culture. In this section, students are asked to report on great leaders from Lakota history, explore the Lakota landscape, and explore Lakota culture. They are also asked to compare Lakota to other languages that may exist in their home communities. These tasks address 4 of the 5 “C’s” built into the ACTFL standards for language teaching: cultures, as they develop an understanding for Lakota culture; connections, as they use math, art, history and writing skills to express what they are learning about the culture; comparisons, as they compare Lakota to other languages; and communities, as they interview members of their own communities outside the classroom.

Students will need library or computer time to do research. Other homework assignments will need to be made in order to allow students to do the field work, art projects, writing and trip planning that are called for in the activities. Realistically, it may take your class two or three weeks to work through and display all of the activities to the fullest. This film can therefore be used as the basis for an entire unit on Lakota culture/history/art, or in a language arts class.

Section 3 exercises address the first “C” of the ACTFL standards: communication. These exercises can be a good review for students who are already involved in Lakota language classes. However, the exercises are perfectly doable even for students (and teachers!) who have never seen or heard a word of Lakota. Students should be encouraged to read the subtitles, and to use logical reasoning to make choices in each section. In the basketball terminology section, for example, they may not see all of the words listed in the film, but they can get all the answers correct by watching that section of the film carefully. As an expansion, you can ask students to look up the other words in the online dictionary. By the end of this section, students should have a good sense of Lakota as a “real” language, used by people of all ages for basic communicative tasks. They may also begin to develop a rudimentary sense of the differing syntax of this language.