Students Show Skill at Local Lakota Language Contest

posted on December 6, 2013

Caine Ghost Bear ‘14, a senior at Red Cloud Indian School, looked out at the crowd before him. Taking a deep breath, he began a speech he’d written on why he believes learning Lakota is so crucial to retaining his cultural identity. And he delivered the speech entirely in the Lakota language.

Caine was one of three Red Cloud High School seniors who competed in the Oglala Lakota College Lakota Speech contest this November. It was Caine’s first time in the competition, and an experience he says he’ll always remember.

“It was something I really wanted to do,” says Ghost Bear. “My speech was about the importance of the Lakȟóta language to our culture and how by using it we better understand our roots.”

The Red Cloud students who competed all learn Lakota through Red Cloud’s unique Lakota language curriculum, the first of its kind in the country. Developed in partnership with experts at the American Indian Studies Research Institute (AISRI) at Indiana University, the curriculum was carefully designed to build knowledge and vocabulary sequentially from kindergarten all the way through high school. Its ultimate goal is to stop the loss of this highly endangered Native language--and support a new generation of fluent Lakota speakers.

Students from all across the reservation competed in the Oglala Lakota College contest. In the Men’s High School Category, Red Cloud senior Colton Sierra ‘14 placed first while Caine placed second. And senior Savannah Jensen ‘14 placed first in her division. Other Red Cloud students also placed, including Elementary student, Adriano Rama '22 who placed second in his division.

“We are all very proud!” says Philomine Lakota, a high school language teacher who has taught all three seniors for the last three years. Lakota also took part in the contest in the ‘Community’ category and took first place as well.

Listen to Caine’s full speech here: 

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All Content ©Red Cloud Indian School, 2013