SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

“Ours in writing”: Reclaiming access to Lakota texts at Standing Rock

Elliot Bannister (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe)

Date: 3 October 2017Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 3 October 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is home to a flourishing movement to protect and revitalize Lakota, a language it shares with several other sovereign nations. Current efforts include documentation projects with fluent Elders, a total immersion school, language and culture instruction in grade schools, and year-round training for language teachers.

Lakota has been written in various forms for centuries and community attitudes towards writing the language are nuanced but generally positive. Major contributors to written Lakota literature include George Bushotter, George Sword and Thomas Tyon, who produced thousands of pages of text around the turn of the twentieth century; Ella Deloria, a Native anthropologist, who transcribed hundreds of narratives and traditional stories in the mid twentieth century; and the Lakota Country Times, which in recent decades has carried regular articles and essays by dozens of fluent speakers. 

As our fluent Elders gradually journey onwards, these texts are becoming an increasingly vital trove of cultural knowledge and authentic language. However, most remain unpublished, and often the original manuscripts sit in museums, libraries and private collections thousands of miles away from Lakota Country. This seminar gives an insight into the ongoing campaign to repatriate the texts to the community, build them into college curriculum, and adapt them for radio, stage, and animation.


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“Ours in writing”: Reclaiming access to Lakota texts at Standing Rock

About the speaker

Elliot Bannister is the Language Specialist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Elliot graduated in 2014 from SOAS, University of London with a degree in Arabic and Persian, and now lives in Fort Yates, North Dakota, the world’s number one destination for cloud-gazing.