Joining the Fight to Revitalize the Lakota Language

In 2015, St. Joseph’s Indian School joined forces with the Lakota Language Consortium to help save the Lakota language by giving our students the tools to become fluent Lakota speakers.

LaRayne has taught St. Joseph’s Native American Studies classes for nearly two decades at St. Joseph’s and has seen the success of the new curriculum.

“Our students want to speak Lakota,” she said. “In class when a student hears someone speaking fluently, they just smile and say, ‘Wow! Keep talking like that!’”

In a supportive effort, we will now be following the language standards students are using in our communications with you, our generous supporters. For example, you have seen the word pilamayathank you. With the new spelling and diacritics, this will now be philámayayethank you.

Some of the words you will see most include:

New spelling Old spelling Meaning
Philámayaye Pilamaya thank you
Wóphila Tȟáŋka Wopila Tanka many thanks
Thiyóšpaye Tiyospaye extended family
Wačhípi Wacipi powwow
Wakȟáŋheža Wakanyeza child
Thiwáhe Tiwahe immediate family
Wóžapi Wojapi fruit pudding
Čhaŋté wašté Cante waste good heart
Christ Tȟúŋpi Christ Tunpi Merry Christmas
Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka Kičhí Uŋ Wakan Tanka Kici Un May God Bless or God Be With You
Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka Wakan Tanka The Great Spirit
Ómakȟa Tȟéča Oíyokiphi Omaka Teca Oiyokipi Happy New Year!
Wačháŋtognaka Wacantognaka generosity
Waŋblí Wanbli eagle
Ptaŋyétu Ptanyetu fall
Kimímela Kimimila butterfly
Kȟolá Kola friend
Šúŋka Sunka dog
Šúŋkawakȟáŋ Sunkawakan horse
Wičháȟpi owíŋža Wichahpi owinza star quilt
Tȟatȟáŋka Tatanka buffalo
Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ Mitakuye oyasin We are all related

There is promise the Lakota language can endure. As students grow in their language skills and become fluent speakers, it can move from endangered to thriving.

After all, the Lakota culture depends on it.

“Without language, there is no culture. We need language in our songs and our ceremonies. We need it in our hearts,” said LaRayne. “We need it in life.”

Philámayayethank you — for supporting classroom and cultural opportunities like this for St. Joseph’s students.

Learn Lakota along with our students by watching Lakota Word Wednesday videos on YouTube and Facebook, or by downloading your very own flashcards for free!