PIERRE, South Dakota (AP) – A Senate panel has endorsed a bill that would recognize the official indigenous language of South Dakota as that of the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation.
The State Affairs Committee voted unanimously Friday to advance the bill after passionate backing from supporters of indigenous language revitalization.
The language is made up of three dialects: Dakota, Lakota and Nakota.
Elyssa Sierra Concha is a teacher in the Lakota immersion program at Red Cloud Indian School. She says passing the bill will tell indigenous children that who they are and the language they speak are “not only recognized but celebrated.”
Concha says she wants them to grow up knowing their state is fully behind them. Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert, the sponsor, says it’s “one of the biggest bills” he’s brought during his time in the Legislature.