About Beverly's Work

Beverly Running Bear, Oglala Lakota, lives in Rapid City, SD, and teaches Lakota 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 Lakota 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 was to hold a discussion with fluent speakers. On July 21, 2021, Bev and a group of elders held the Protecting and Sustaining our Lakota Language for Future Generations gathering.


The event was the first step toward meeting her objective of developing elder-inspired ways to approach Lakota language preservation.  Additionally, Bev hopes that by creating a video history of Lakota, fluent speakers, the next generation of speakers will have another preservation asset. Bev believes language holds the key to the Lakóta way of life.


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