Members and descendants of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, a division of the Great Sioux Nation, live east of the Missouri River, mostly in North and South Dakota, and speak the Dakota dialect. As the population of native speakers ages, younger generations breathe new life into study of the language. In college courses, community education classes, and study teams, learners of all ages practice speaking and writing at the same time that they come to understand the storied history of this significant Native American group.
Nicolette Knudson and Jody Snow, students of the language, along with Dakota instructor and revered elder Clifford Canku share their expertise through activities that organize the language at its most basic level. Twenty-four lesson plans build on each other and use cultural and historical information to increase understanding of the Dakota language and world view. Exercises offer opportunities to practice writing and speaking, increasing vocabulary and introducing grammatical building blocks that enhance comprehension. Glossaries provide translations from Dakota to English and back again. With these features and more, Beginning Dakota is an invaluable tool for speakers of all levels.
Clifford Canku, an elder of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and chair of the Dakota Studies department at NDSU, assisted Dakota language students Nicolette Knudson, also a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, and Jody Snow, a language instructor, in creating this helpful resource.