Thunder Valley CDC
Lakota Language Initiative
Pine Ridge Reservation, Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota
The core to Thunder Valley CDC’s Lakota Language Initiative is the Lakota Learners Immersion Childcare. The childcare, where all language used is Lakota, is based on First Nations Immersion, bilingual and language development research. One goal of the childcare and preschool is to create first language learners instead of teaching Lakota as a second language. Children whose first language development is Lakota have the ability to gain fluency more rapidly and master pronunciation at the vital point in language development. This language foundation, created by the language nest, surrounds the children in their culture’s native language.
In addition, Lakota Language Initiative has implemented programs in their community including 2nd Language Learners education, especially for families with children in the childcare, to support language development, and created curriculum for the childcare and a group of childcare graduates are headed to elementary school, continuing their immersion education.
The childcare has developed from a ‘make it work’ initiative to a model of starting a program that can lead to developing new crop of fluent language speakers.