Lakota Language Program

In 2007, Red Cloud Indian School launched the Lakota Language Project (LLP) as a means of promoting and revitalizing the Lakota language and culture through curriculum development, community engagement and culturally-relevant education.

With less than 6,000 fluent Lakota speakers left, the need for a youth-focused, comprehensive language curriculum is a crucial step toward revitalizing the language.

As the Lakota language was historically an oral language, Red Cloud Indian School developed the curriculum from scratch. After raising more than $2.2 million from generous donors and grantmakers, and in partnership with the American Indian Studies Research Institute at Indiana University, Red Cloud’s trained faculty are now teaching Lakota each school day in all thirteen grade levels.


The Lakota Language Program currently serves 600 K-12 students attending the three schools that comprise Red Cloud Indian School, Inc.: Red Cloud Elementary, Red Cloud High, and Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary.

Divided into two phases, the LLP first focused on the creation of the nation’s first comprehensive K-12 Lakota language curriculum. After working to ensure that the Lakota language is a strong part of every student's day, it was clear that in order to become sustainable, the language learning would need to move beyond the classroom. Begun in 2015, Phase II focuses further on family and community involvement, as well as supplemental material creation.

Phase 1 Results:
  • 67% of students reported using Lakota more at home as a result of the LLP curriculum.
  • 77% of parents and grandparents reported that their students have an increased awareness of Lakota traditions as a result of the LLP curriculum.
Phase 2 Goals:
  • Strengthen community and family use of the Lakota language by providing innovative opportunities for learning throughout the year.
  • Strengthen the instruction of grammar and vocabulary through the use of materials reflecting Lakota thought and philosophy. 


Maȟpíya Lúta Owáyawa 2015 Lakȟól’iya Wičhóthi - Recap

Lakota Studies Teacher Highlighted on Front Page of Regional News

Red Cloud Lakota Teacher Nominated for Life Changer of the Year Award

Red Cloud's Lakota Language Program Highlighted

Innovative Lakota Curriculum Presented at National Conference


Staff & Teachers:

Project Director: Robert Brave Heart, Sr. 
Project Coordinator: Melissa S. Strickland 
Activities Coordinator: Vance Blacksmith 
Materials Developer: Nicky Belle 

OLL K-8 Teacher: Gloria Two Crow
RCES K-4 Teacher: Waniya Locke 
RCES 5-8 Teacher: Randi Gibbons 
RCHS Level 1 Teacher: Roger White Eyes 
RCHS Level 2 Teacher: Beverly Pipe On Head
RCHS Level 3 & 4 Teacher: Philomine Lakota

Help champion this initiative

Contribute to the success of this initiative by making a gift online or calling our Advancement Office at 605/867-1105 ext. 2300 to learn more about how your family or foundation can partner with us.