Beverly Running Bear, Oglala Lakóta, lives in Rapid City, SD and teaches Lakóta Language at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. Growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1950s, Bev’s first language was Lakóta, but she lost the language when she went to school and was forbidden to speak it. It took taking Lakóta in college for her to re-gain knowledge of her language.
Now, her passion for teaching Lakóta comes out of the sheer desire to preserve it. Fluency is dwindling—less than 20 percent of the Očéti Šakówin speak Lakóta at a fluent level. Most of these speakers are elders.
Bev’s goal for her fellowship is to hold a conference where fluent speakers come together to speak Lakóta and to discuss the future of the language. Bev hopes that creating a history of authentic, fluent speakers will serve as a great tool for helping the youth carry on this valuable aspect of being Lakóta.
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