The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) Tribal Department of Education created a Language & Culture Institute to expand upon existing Lakota/Dakota language programming on the Standing Rock Reservation, located in central North and South Dakota. The Institute is intended to significantly enlarge opportunities for students, families, and other community members to become highly proficient in the Lakota/Dakota language, enhance postsecondary success for students through the discipline of acquiring a tribal language, and foster multicultural education. The Language & Culture Institute is focused upon (1) expanding the Lakota Summer Institute (LSI) from a three week professional development event into a year-round training program; (2) creating an online learning ePortal component for educators and students to access; (3) revising the current teacher education programs in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education at Sitting Bull College, the local tribal college in Fort Yates, to incorporate Lakota/Dakota language and culture, and (4) providing language classes for parents and other community members. The teacher education program is intended to create a unique pool of teachers who are highly proficient in the Lakota/Dakota language and whose educational foundations, pedagogies, and methodologies are based in Lakota/Dakota culture.
RMC Research is conducting a mixed methods formative and summative evaluation to assess the SRST Language & Culture Institute’s impacts on students, teachers, parents, and community members. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, and classroom observations are being used to provide detailed information about professional development and training for K-12 and college teachers and the attainment of Lakota/Dakota language skills by students and community members. Protocols also collect data about the acquisition of knowledge regarding Lakota/Dakota language, culture, and history by student teachers; factors that facilitate and impede success; and areas for improvement. All survey, interview, observation, and focus group protocols have been developed in conjunction with the staff of the SRST Language & Culture Institute.