BUTTE -- No cell signals, no radio waves, no cable, no English.
It's all part of a plan to
keep technology and the 21st century at bay while immersing students
into the American Indian language and culture of the Cheyenne River
As a way to strengthen an
endangered language, Si Tanka University will challenge 100 student
campers to a week of accelerated learning where only the Lakota
language is spoken.
Setting up campsites along
the sandy banks of the Cheyenne River on the southern border of
the reservation, students will have had a two-day vocabulary and
camp orientation before entering the outdoor seminar.
Rosalita Roach, program director
of Cheyenne River Resource Consortium, said the consortium sponsors
the camp as part of Waonspekiya Oyasin, a language revitalization
project for teachers.
"It's a full-immersion
camp," Roach said. "They're going to use local resources,
like the elders, for activities and for conversation."
Cultural aspects, such as
set-up of the camp, storytelling and music will be a part of the
experience, she said. But it also demands full participation from
"Once campers go in,
they can't come out," she said. "That is, if they want
to earn their credits."
"It's going to be informational
and educational," Barry Mann said.
Mann, Si Tanka University
academic dean, said the basic idea behind the camp is to preserve
the Lakota language.
"It's what makes us
the people that we are," he said.
It's the first time the camp
has focused on adults and teachers, and will incorporate a lot of
the values, tradition and culture of the Lakota people, he said.
Sponsored by Waonspekiya
Oyasin, Si Tanka University and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Language
Department, the camp runs June 1-6.
Pre-camp courses will begin
June 1 at Si Tanka University at the Eagle Butte campus. Language
teachers and university officials will introduce Lakota vocabulary,
class syllabus, orientation and core concepts.
Campers are asked to bring
their own tents, bedrolls and gear. A complete list of what to bring
will be provided at pre-registration.
The camp experience costs
$249 plus a $50 fee. The tuition and course fees will pay for the
three-credit course work, materials and meals. Tuition is free to
enrolled tribal members, with a priority to those living on the
Language campers will arrive
for check-in at noon to 1 p.m. June 3 at the site. Maps to the site
will be given to students at the orientation.
The camp offers Lakota introduction
course for 35 students; Lakota II for 35 students; Lakota III for
15 students and Lakota IV for 15 students. The participants will
have an on-site camp experience. Family-centered, campers are welcome
to bring their children, ages 5 and older. Children's activities
will be provided. Campers would have to provide their own babysitters
for very young children.
"Based on people's interest,
we may have to do it again," Mann said.