LAKOTA LANGUAGE 1
Languagecomprises a critical segment of culture and history. Distinctions canalways be made between people from different places by language.Language also facilitates communication among various people.Therefore, language loss threatens the existence of wholecommunities. During human history, various languages have sufferedextinction owing to dwindling numbers of native speakers. The Lakotalanguage faces an imminent threat of extinction unless current trendsare reversed. The Lakota nation is based in North and South Dakotastates. The community boasts of almost 170,000 members. However, onlyabout 6,000 of these can speak the language. The most worryingstatistic concerns the fact that the average age of indigenousspeakers is almost 70 (Hott, Garey, Chowder, & Guerrero, 2015).
Variousinitiatives have been undertaken so as to save the language fromextinction. The Consortium embodies the efforts aimedat preserving and protecting the Lakota language. It contains anetwork of 80 learning institutions, 20,000 learners, and eighttribal groups. The Forum has also emerged as a viablecombatant against extinction of the language. This forum serves as anonline network of language troops committed to studying and masteringthe language (Hott et al., 2015). These noble, self-sacrificingefforts are aimed at keeping the Lakota language alive for decades tocome.
Epochs ofcolonialist activities have severed the richness of culture andlanguage. The proliferation of English as a global language hasdamaged the appeal of native languages. Television programs andsocial media sites have been at the forefront in enhancing thepopularity of English. Consequently, this has precipitated a globalepidemic of language eradication. Native cultures have borne theworst effects due to their seemingly backward nature. The realthreats to Native languages led to the formation of the LanguageConservancy. This organization has been committed to preserving thedying cultures and languages of Native tribes in the US (Hott et al.,2015). Furthermore, the Language Conservancy works to revitalizedying languages by raising awareness and empowering tribal members.
The filmRising Voices typifies one of the initiatives undertaken by theLanguage Conservancy to preserve Lakota culture. The one-hour film iscomposed of four short videos by renowned filmmakers. The filmprovides invaluable insight into the daily struggle to save theLakota language. Contributors share their heartfelt feelings aboutthe dying language. They also highlight the massive challenges facedby the community in perpetuating their rich culture. Non-Indianpeople are also depicted in the film to give a holistic view of whatit means to save a dying language. The inspirational film paints aclear picture of the intricate characteristics of a culture. It alsodisseminates an objective perspective into the facts that led to thelanguage loss in the first place (Hott et al., 2015). Moreover, thefilm provides in-depth analysis into the revitalization effortsundertaken to save the language.
The production ofthe film has brought enlightenment to the general public concerningthe existence of the Lakota language. The 6,000 native speakers havebeen encouraged to do their utmost to preserve the language. Perhapsthe most understated consequence has been the hope that non-speakingmembers of the Lakota community have gained. They can now hope thattheir language will survive beyond the death of the native speakers.Rising Voices has inspired people from all over the world totreasure local languages and work to preserve those (Hott et al.,2015). Society and culture become poorer whenever a language is lost.
As discussed,language and culture form an integral part of human society. TheLakota language is one of the languages facing extinction in modernsociety. The Language Conservancy has tasked itself to preserve andrevitalize the language in consideration of the reduced numbers ofNative speakers (Hott et al., 2015). The film Rising Voices isone such initiative aimed at raising awareness and preserving theLakota language.
Hott, L. R., Garey, D., Chowder, K., & Guerrero, K. N. (2015).Rising Voices/ Hóthaninpi: Revitalizing the Lakota language.Bloomington, IN: The Language Conservancy.