A tribal dancer. Photo: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi (Pow Wow)

Shakopee Tribe partners with tribal colleges for language program

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is launching a Dakota language training program.

The goal of the Voices of Our Ancestors program is to keep the language alive for future generations. Starting in August, the tribe, along with four tribal colleges, will train a total of 20 students in Dakota language, culture and history.

“We have very few Dakota speakers left who grew up speaking the language,” Chairman Charles R. Vig said in a press release. “Fortunately, the number of second-language fluent speakers is gradually increasing. They are the keys to preserving our language and teaching our next generation. This program will add much-needed Dakota speakers and teachers in several communities across the country.”

The tribal colleges that are part of the program are the Cankdeska Cikana Community College in North Dakota, the Fort Peck Community College in Montana, the Nebraska Indian Community College (Santee Campus) and the Sisseton Wahpeton College in South Dakota.

The tribe, whose reservation is located in Minnesota, is investing $2 million in Voices of Our Ancestors. It will run for two years.

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