your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Ivan Star Comes Out: We must speak Lakota to keep it from dying

Filed Under: Education | Opinion
More on: genocide, ivan star comes out, languages, native sun news, treaties, youth

Ivan F. Star Comes Out

Retaining our language means speaking it at home and in communities all of the time not just in school
By Ivan F. Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist

Native population numbers declined radically the day Columbus arrived in this hemisphere of the globe but no one’s talking about it. European diseases, traveling faster than the settlers, decimated native populations. Modern historians place the survival rate at about ten percent. Today most of 2.5 million natives reside in major cities while the rest remain on their ancestral homelands (“Indian” reservations).

An old Lakota word, wicotakunisni (eradication of people), defines the destruction of native people including the diseases to which they had no immunity. War was waged on them which destroyed their lifestyles, belief systems, sovereignty or self-governance, food sources, the family unit, histories, traditions, and language. Scholars estimate that about 200 languages survived.

In the mid-1880s, at the behest of the newcomer’s greed for gold, their new government became combative toward the surviving Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires). Eventually, a peace treaty (one of many) written by United States representatives, was ratified in 1868. Congress, realizing it could not completely eradicate the remaining “savages,” endeavored to turn them into their own likeness.

Thus the treaty included the “civilization” of “Indians” by means of an “English education.” This legalized the forced removal of native children from their parents and isolated them in their xenophobic boarding schools (1886-1890) where they carried out their intense integration policy.

At the same time, according to the treaty, their parents were allocated necessities to become farmers and ranchers. They were confined to their own homelands and were required to ask for permission to leave. After living thousands of years with their itinerant, food-gathering, lifestyle successfully, the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) were expected to be like the white man in a mere two hundred years.

Meanwhile, the children were shorn of their hair and their languages were forcibly prohibited with severe and often brutal punishment. In effect, usage of their beloved Dakota/Lakota/Nakota language began to decline as more and more natives lost their desire or ability to speak it. The philosophical attributes that comprised their time-honored culture are also facing total obliteration today.

It is strange that in the midst of this destruction, some of the newcomers began to record our languages on paper. A 1723 text written by Augustin de Quintana referenced some language linguistics regarding “Indians” of Mexico. Since that time, numerous dictionaries, grammar, and vocabulary books, have been written.

The first vocabulary on “Sioux” and “Chippewa” languages was written in 1823. I counted 15 books (grammar, vocabulary, and dictionaries) written by both non-Lakota and Lakota authors. The latest rave is the orthography developed by the Lakota Language Consortium (LLC). As Lakota educators, we must realize that despite the great promise shown by each of these works, our language is still dying.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Retaining our language means speaking it at home and in communities all of the time not just in school

(Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at PO Box 147, Oglala, SD 57764; 605-867-2448 or via email at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Trump administration ready to let Cobell program run out of funds (5/24)
Northwest tribes slam Trump's budget for cuts to Indian programs (5/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe finds one bright spot in Trump's budget (5/24)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe reports jury conviction of non-Indian offender (5/24)
YES! Magazine: Native birthing center maintains tribal traditions (5/24)
Peter d'Errico: Founding Fathers conspired to take land from tribes (5/24)
Eastern Cherokee chief questions fairness of impeachment hearing (5/24)
Another guilty plea in theft of gaming funds from Winnebago Tribe (5/24)
Tribes clear legislative hurdle in bid for new casino in Connecticut (5/24)
President Trump confirms Indian Country's worst fears with budget (5/23)
Office of Special Trustee pitches lower budget as 'taxpayer' savings (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
Gyasi Ross: Fired FBI director made sure Peltier remained in prison (5/22)
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)
André Cramblit: Treasure your aunties and uncles for their histories (5/22)
Treaty tribes celebrate after court refuses to rehear salmon dispute (5/22)
Eastern Cherokee leaders open impeachment hearing against chief (5/22)
Top Interior pick contradicts Trump on 'race' and Indian programs (5/19)
Arne Vainio: Expressing gratitude for the people we have around us (5/19)
Lawmakers dug deep to help North Dakota with #NoDAPL response (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures EPA grant for cleanup of contaminated lands (5/19)
Steven Newcomb: The racist and toxic roots of federal Indian policy (5/19)
Indian Country braces for worst with Trump's planned budget cuts (5/18)
Bipartisan task force announced to look into Indian Health Service (5/18)
Lawmakers push to renew Special Diabetes Program for Indians (5/18)
Albert Bender: Police slaughter of Native people rages unabated (5/18)
Steve Russell: There's a downside to impeaching Donald Trump (5/18)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant goes on trial (5/18)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe repays money to address federal audit (5/18)
House passes bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (5/18)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.