PINE RIDGE, South Dakota — A school on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is implementing a new curriculum designed to teach students the rapidly disappearing Lakota language.
The Red Cloud Indian School near the town of Pine Ridge has been working for six years with the American Indian Studies Research Institute at Indiana University to develop the curriculum that includes software and textbooks for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Fewer than 6,000 people in the world are believed to speak Lakota fluently.
"In some ways, this project is about preserving the language," Red Cloud Executive Director Robert Brave Heart told the Rapid City Journal (http://argusne.ws/1b3keAA ). "But it's about more than that; it's about the students and their identity. . We believe it's about building a good positive identity."
The effort began after a school review determined that its Lakota language program was ineffective, in part because of poorly trained teachers and a lack of teaching materials. The newly developed curriculum will not stop at the school.
"The next step is helping the parents, guardians and grandparents learn along with the students," Brave Heart said.