Lakota Language Immersion Childcare
Iyápi Glukínipi / Lakota Immersion Childcare, is a "language nest"-style daycare program that accepts children no later than their second birthday, in order start them at a pre-verbal age. Our mission is to teach children on the Pine Ridge Reservation Lakota as a first language, in a nurturing and enriched childcare setting, as a basis for continued fluency throughout their lives, to be full participants in the revitalization of their heritage language. We opened our doors in November, 2012, and currently serve five children and their families. We plan to expand by admitting new cohorts over the next several years.
We are located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and are the first full-immersion early childhood daycare in Lakota Country. Our program follows the "language nest" model of situational language immersion. We are initially beginning with a small cohort of children under age two, so that they may learn Lakota as a first language. In future years, the program will expand upward as the initial cohort reaches elementary school age, in order to include an elementary school curriculum (all in Lakota). The early childhood component will be retained permanently, in order to prepare first-language Lakota speaking children for the immersion school component. Our program also works with the parents of the enrolled children - none of whom are fluent speakers themselves (the average age of a fluent speaker is 68 years old) - in order to increase their proficiency so that they can support their children's language use in the home as well.
11/23 Update: Another Move and a New Start
It has been a busy couple of months for our program! In early October, after a record-setting blizzard was followed by days of heavy rain, the over-saturated ground decided it couldn't handle the septic system of the building we were using and flooded up through the drainage system into the building. This led to the carpets and flooring having to be torn up and replaced, as well as over $1,000 worth of damage. The destruction essentially made the building uninhabitable for our program, and as a result, we found ourselves suddenly "homeless".
But the cloud had a silver lining. After moving the entire surviving contents of our program from outside the flooded building, pickup load by pickup load, to the program director's garage, we found a new building significantly bigger than our previous location. The building belongs to prominent community elder Leonard Little Finger, and his organization, Lakota Circle Village / Cangleska Wakan Owayawa. The building was built 7 years ago with the intention of housing a language immersion program for children, so it is a serendipitous win-win situation. Leonard had the building we suddenly needed, and we had the program that he had always wanted. We feel truly blessed!
So now, after a bump in the road, we are moved in, and back up and running. Our CrowdRise fundraising campaign (www.crowdrise.com/lakotaimmersionchildcare/fundraiser/ramamatthew), is closing in on $5,000, and we would love your additional support to help us keep our doors open. As we were reminded of this past month, expenses cannot always be anticipated ahead of time! And of course, feel free to forward that link to others you think might want to support us, post it to Facebook, tweet it out, etc.
Finally, please "like" our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lakotalearners. We would like to reach 500 likes and then some! Happy Thankgiving, and best wishes from Lakota Immersion Childcare.
Aŋpetu wašte waŋži yuha po!
8/12 Update: Looking Ahead to Year 2
Well, it has been a good, sometimes hot, and very productive summer for our program. Our new location 6 miles west of Pine Ridge has been even better than expected (and we had high expectations!). Having Steve on board (and Matt running the show) has enabled things to go more smoothly than ever. And we have been the beneficiaries of some very generous gifts of late, from donors including the Densford Fund of the Riverside Church in New York City, and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California. Líla philáuŋyayaŋpe ló!
At the moment, we are looking to expand our program as originally planned. We have already brought on our sixth and seventh children, and hope to expand to a full roster of 10 by the end of October. Parents interested in potentially enrolling their children should contact Peter or Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. With our first year nearly under our belts, we couldn't be more grateful for all of the support we have received, or more excited about what lies ahead!
And remember, you can see photos of the program and our awesome kids, as well as get more frequent updates on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lakotalearners.
6/5 Update: Steven Slow Bear Joins Program
All of us here at the language nest are extremely please to welcome Steve Slow Bear to Iyápi Glukínipi as a full-time caregiver. Steve brings the necessary Lakota fluency, hard work ethic, and love of working with children that the job demands. We have searched high and low to find the right individual for this position, and we are confident that we have found such a person in Steve!
5/15 Update: New Program Director Hired
Iyápi Glukínipi is please to announce that the Advisory Board has approved the hire of Matt Rama to the position of Program Director, effective June 3. In addition to the many skills that he brings to the table, Matt is an eager adult learner of Lakota, and is driven by a passion for the language, and a desire to pass it on to his own Lakota children. This immersion daycare was largely Matt's idea in the first place, and the program is happy to welcome him on board as a full-time administrator!
2/8 Update: Our Largest Gift So Far!
Lakota Immersion Childcare is thrilled to announce that it was awarded a $20,000 discretionary grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation of San Rafael, California (www.kalliopeia.org). Words cannot express our gratitude for this extremely generous gesture! We thank Kalliopeia for believing in our program and our mission. Wophila tȟaŋka!!
1/1/13 Update: Happy New Year!
Best wishes to all of our friends for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013. We would especially like to thank Winona LaDuke's Honor the Earth foundation, who last week awarded us a $4,000 "Building Resilience" grant, and the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia for donating half of their Christmas Day offertory collection to our program! Wophila yelo!
12/10 Update: Up and Running!
We have been going for a few weeks now, and are off to a good start! You can see photos of the program and our awesome kids, as well as get more frequent updates on our FB page: www.facebook.com/lakotalearners.
Update: Childcare to begin in early November!
Our online fundraising campaign was successful enough that we have the means to get our venture underway. We are currently in the process of enrolling our first cohort of children for the program, and looking for a second full-time fluent caregiver. Check back for more updates!
Also, as the funds we have raised are the bare minimum needed to sustain us for the first six months, we could still very much use DONATIONS to help keep our endeavor running in the long term. If you are interested in contributing, click HERE. Thank you!!
A Language on the Brink
- There are currently fewer than 5,000 Lakota speakers in existence, representing less than 12% of the Lakota population of North and South Dakota.
- The average age of a Lakota speaker is 68 years old - significantly older than the average reservation life expectancy.
- There are almost no fluent speakers of the language below the age of forty.