June 3, 2022
Lakota elders helped a white man preserve their language. Then he tried to sell it back to them.
Author: Graham Lee Brewer
STANDING ROCK INDIAN RESERVATION, S.D. — Ray Taken Alive had been fighting for this moment for two years: At his urging, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council was about to take the rare and severe step of banishing a nonprofit organization from the tribe’s land.
The Lakota Language Consortium had promised to preserve the tribe’s native language and had spent years gathering recordings of elders, including Taken Alive’s grandmother, to create a new, standardized Lakota dictionary and textbooks.