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.
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.