Mathias Bullerman (Lead Course Developer)
On Monday, September 21st, 2009 SAIVUS launched a Lakota
pronunciation guide at this URL (lakota.saivus.org). Per protocol, we added
this link to the Lakota
Language Wikipedia page. However, it was promptly removed by the user
'Thiyopa' under the rationale "Site contains major inacuracies [sic.] and
misleading info, linked by its author", so we added it again, and it was again
removed under the rationale "the site contains major inacuracies [sic.]
and esp. misleading info, obviously linked by its author".
Other users had similar experiences, for instance, when 'Thiyopa' removed a link
posted by 'Cancega' under the rationale "Web with highly inacurate [sic.]
content," 'Cancega' complained "Not inaccurate, leave the vote to the majority
since you are biased." The aforementioned link was
Lakota Iyapi, which
SAIVUS considers to be an excellent resource for learning Lakota; in fact we
added it to our own links page. The history of Wikipedia edits of the Lakota Language Wikipedia
article is viewable online at the following link:
Upon further investigation, I discovered 'Thiyopa' is also the administrator of
the Lakota Language Forum (LLF),
run by the Lakota Language Consortium
(LLC). In clicking on the link to the LLF I instantly found I was banned
from admission even though I had never broken any rules. Apparently 'Thiyopa'
immediately banned my IP address using the IP address from my two Wikipedia
edits. I emailed the LLC to inquire a) what mistakes my Lakota tutorial
contains, b) why I was banned from a forum I have never visited, especially since
'Thiyopa' considers it to be the only source of "accurate information" on
At once my ban from the LLF was lifted, yet I received an email response from
Jan F. Ullrich beseeching me to abandon SAIVUS' Lakota project so that only the
LLC's materials remain available to the public, under the principle rationale
other materials contain mistakes that "confuse" Lakota who are trying to teach
and learn their language. Mr. Ullrich did not specifically identify any mistakes
in SAIVUS' lessons.
Since Mr. Ullrich is an experienced professional, and the LLC is a reputed
non-profit with extensive community involvement and a long history of positive
press, on Monday, April 26th, 2010, SAIVUS members voted to remove
our Lakota materials and abandon our Lakota project at the LLC's request,
displaying the following disclaimer in its stead:
SAIVUS has removed our Lakota pronunciation guide and abandoned creation of
subsequent lessons. We are honoring our policy never to publish or to remove
existing materials on Native languages provided the Native group associated with
that language is predominately opposed, as expressed to us by
Jan Ullrich of the
Lakota Language Consortium.
Please refer to our
for leads on learning Lakota. Only a significant community response on behalf of
distance learners in favor of our work can restore them. Please email comments
Although the decision damaged our public reputation, it was a sincere attempt to
honor our policy "...never to publish language resources if the majority of the
native group pertaining to that language is opposed."
Yet upon further investigation, SAIVUS concluded that the LLC has a tainted
track record and does not in fact represent the majority of Lakota. Take the
following 2002 "Lakota Journal" article by Cal Thunder Hawk, which is one of
many sources documenting the fraudulent, territorialistic and imperialistic
practices of the LLC.
Sinte Gleska University, Rosebud, is where Lakota language instructor Albert
White Hat Sr. teaches, who is renowned for developing his own orthography
and self-study course for Lakota:
Reading and Writing the Lakota Language
Albert White Hat Sr.
In the summer of 2010, SAIVUS bonded with prominent Lakota leaders on various
American Indian reservations in Montana, who expressed that their people were
very open to digital Lakota language lessons, notably:
Blu Wakpa (Powder River) a.k.a. Dr. Jessie Johnson (center): a
Linguist from the University of Arizona who concentrated on language immersion
and revitalization among the Cheyenne River Lakota, and his uncles Floyd War
Eagle (left) and Douglass Clown (right): two native speaking Cheyenne River
Lakota descendents of Crazy Horse.
Tashna Whirlwindhorse a.k.a. Tashna LaVaux (center): a fluent Lakota speaker
from Haskell Indian Nations University with decades of community involvement
among the Lakota who founded Lakhota.com and has
written copious books on the language, chiefly a dictionary intended for
native speaker reference, (as opposed to the LLC's materials which are
intended for second language acquisition).
The New English - Lakhota Dictionary
Without mentioning any details of my interactions with 'Thiyopa' nor the LLC, I
emailed Ms. Whirlwindhorse to inquire why links to Lakhota.com had been
repeatedly removed from the Lakota Language Wikipedia article. She informed me
that 'Thiyopa' had commandeered the Lakota Language Wikipedia page, and
cautioned me about the LLC with complaints ranging from, unwarranted hostility,
excessive harassment, fraud, organized slander, and other miscellaneous
unprofessional behaviors, which were needless to say, highly reminiscent of my
own dealings with them.
"It's felt a lot like stalking and intimidation. A Lakhota language colleague
of mine says, LLC determined I was competition and has been trying to snub me
- Tashna Whirlwindhorse
Since the LLC's demonstrated prerogatives of a) dictating Lakota language
school-of-thought, b) mandating the Ullrich orthorgraphy, and c) monopolizing
Lakota language pedagogical materials are not aligned with SAIVUS' values, we have
rescinded their request to remove our materials and are green-lighting our
mission to create digital Lakota lessons.
On Friday, April 29th, 2011, SAIVUS republished our original Lakota
pronunciation guide and green-lighted our Lakota language project, now at:
We will soon be modifying it into a general tutorial of the sound systems of
Lakota, Dakota and Nakota and their dialects.
For more information on SAIVUS' interactions with the LLC please
For information on Lakhota.com's interactions with the LLC please contact them.
SAIVUS maintains that the LLC is in fact making a positive impact on the Lakota
language by training teachers, establishing immersion schools and creating
reliable pedagogical materials geared toward children and non-native speaking
individuals that SAIVUS members consult ourselves, such as:
SAIVUS ended our interaction with Mr. Ullrich and the LLC on a positive note. We
encourage their efforts to revitalize Lakota and laud them for the positive
goals they have achieved. However, we are severely opposed to their negative
tactics and are attempting to expose their misconducts the purpose of
warning the general public of their misbehavior, through a press release. Please
email firstname.lastname@example.org if you
would like to get involved.