lakotabuttonpronunciationat (5K)

lakotalogolesson01 (33K)

iconpdf (1K) Printable Version (.pdf)


Regarding Removing and Restoring SAIVUS' Lakota Pronunciation Guide and Ambitions to Create Future Materials

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lakota_language&action=history.

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 Lakota.

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 Links section 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 to webmaster@saivus.org.

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.

sintegleskaarticle (682K)


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:

thumbnailreadingandwriting (66K)

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:

floydjessiedoug (122K)

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 (114K)

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).

thumbnailnewenglishlakhotadictionary (65K)

The New English - Lakhota Dictionary
Tashna Whirlwindhorse

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 out since."

- 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 contact us.
     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:

thumbnailnewlakhotadictionary (57K)

The New Lakota Dictionary
Lakota Language Consortium, edited by Jan F. Ullrich

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 webmaster@saivus.org if you would like to get involved.

© 2010-2011 SAIVUS. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: 04/29/2011