A new website created with a primarily Native American audience in mind is posting news, features, sports and weather entirely in Lakota — the first of its kind to do so — in an attempt to help preserve a language that after forced assimilation policies is now spoken by fewer than 2,000 people.
The site was developed by partners who have been involved in several initiatives to embed the Lakota language in various aspects of life. Their goal with Woihanble.com — which translates to “dream” — is to get the language out of the classroom.
“Nowadays, everyone spends much of their daily life online; visiting websites, reading news, checking the weather, browsing social media, or any number of other activities,” said Matthew Rama, one of the creators. “But until now, there has never been a site with as much content strictly in Lakota. So in that respect, we are bringing the language to the people in a brand-new way.”
Other media outlets provide news of interest to the community, but in English. Woihanble.com’s local news content comes from two area weeklies that mostly focus on Native American issues. The site has an agreement with those weeklies to translate stories into Lakota, with links back to the original articles. And in recognition that many people who speak the language well do not read it easily, news stories include audio clips in Lakota.
“A lot of fluent speakers are not necessarily accustomed to reading 1,500-word articles on arcane subjects,” said Peter Hill, another of the website’s creators. “So having the audio version and having the article read to you is going to make it a lot more accessible to a lot more people.”
This is the kind of thing that’s needed if minority languages are to have a chance to survive. Thanks, Trevor!