Three-Year Grant to Strengthen Language at OLC

Nov 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-2: American Indian Higher Education Consortium 30th Anniversary, Tribal College News
TOMMY THOMPSON

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson presented Oglala Lakota College (OLC) with a three-year grant at their Rapid City campus in August. Photo courtesy of Rapid City Journal

“If we’re serious about improving the quality of life among American Indians, we have to provide the resources necessary for them to sustain their sense of identity,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson as he presented Oglala Lakota College (OLC) with a three-year grant at their Rapid City campus in August 2002. The $419,189 will be used to enhance OLC’s Lakota language program called Lakota Wicoiye Uwaske or “Strengthening the Lakota Language.”

Thompson said, “OLC has been instrumental in the language preservation effort, but that effort was insufficient because of the lack of teachers. The language must be used in daily life to be retained.” The funding will help develop incentive policies, train mentors, implement a mentoring program, train language coaches, develop a library of educational tools, and develop protocols for language immersion camps. The grant, awarded by the Administration for Native Americans, will also help refine staff assessment.

OLC Language Department Chairwoman Karen Lone Hill explained, “A big portion of the money will go to the total immersion camps where everything done and said is in Lakota. In the past we had them mostly in the summer months for one week at a time but didn’t have the money to continue.” Having this kind of support will help staff, students, and community members apply what they are learning to their own culture.

OLC will receive $150,000 the first year, $140,000 the second year and $130,000 the third year. “Yours is a very proud past, and in part through this grant, yours is also going to be a very bright future,” assured Thompson in his remarks. Oglala Lakota College has its headquarters in Kyle, SD, with many branch campuses. It is one of the six charter members of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).

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