Based on extensive research and pedagogy on the Rosebud Reservation, this elementary grammar of Lakota, one of three languages spoken by the Sioux nation, is the first written by a native Lakota speaker. It presents the Sicangu dialect using an orthography developed by Lakota in 1982 and which is now supplanting older systems provided by linguists and missionaries. This new approach represents a powerful act of self-determination for Indian education.
Though READING AND WRITING THE LAKOTA LANGUAGE is thorough in its inclusion of conjugation, syntax, and sentence structure, it emphasizes vocabulary and pronunciation. Author Albert White Hat Sr. presents Lakota philosophy as it applies to specific grammar lessons. These examples offer new information and interpretations of Lakota spirituality and society, even to scholars who specialize in Plains cultures. Moreover, he documents the impact of the acculturation process on language, showing how Lakota evolved as a result of non-Indian influences. Beyond language instruction, readers will value the book for its cultural insights, humorous stories, and its entertaining tone.
"White Hat has given a unique window into contemporary Lakota oral tradition as well as into language as it is now practiced on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. No other Lakota language text and no other volume in the extensive Lakota ethnography tells us as much about the effect of language on both cultural deterioration and survival."--Julian Rice
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Albert White Hat Sr. is a professor at Sinte Gleska University.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It is easy to confuse the distinction between male and female speech. In recent times, many visitors have come to the reservation who attempted to use greetings and acknowledgments without learning the proper usage from local Lakota speakers. One time, in an inipi ceremony (a purification ceremony), a woman was visiting the lodge. Every time the Medicine Man prayed or made a comment, she responded loudly, "Hau, hau," instead of saying, "To!" or "Haye!" like the other women. As the Medicine Man continued with his prayers, he expressed a message from the spirits and this woman responded loudly, saying, "Hokahe," a male expression meaning "Let's go. It's time to start." The Medicine Man couldn't control himself any longer. He started to laugh and almost forgot to convey the rest of the messages.
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