Saturday, July 20, 2013

The man who kept the Lakota language alive

Albert White Hat, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe died recently, but his work helped the Lakota language remain in existence. Here are a few words …

The Native American teacher and author Albert White Hat died recently. He was a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe who dedicated himself to preserving the endangered Lakota language, even helping with the translation for the Lakota conversation in Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves. Most of the few thousand remaining speakers are elderly and the fear is that Lakota may join the roll call of dead languages, which is increasing at the rate of one a fortnight. Yet it is a language with a rich, varied and fascinating vocabulary all of its own ...

Iwaktehda: to go home in triumph having taken scalps.
Akaspa: to be provoked beyond endurance.
Waśihdaka: one who gets angry at everything.
Wićawokha: a man who lives with his wife's relations (literally, a buried man).
Naptakhpaya: to lie on one's belly resting on one's arms.
Kaiyotan: to fall in attempting to sit down.
Khpa: to be wet or clogged, as a mosquito's wings with dew.
Akaska: to eat after one is full.
Wakhedan: the places from which squirrels dig up food.
Bohnaskinyan: to make an animal crazy or furious by shooting.
Hangyetuw: the moon (literally, the night sun – while anpetuwi is the day sun).
Kixansiksuya: to know by one's feelings that unpleasant weather is imminent.
Khmungha: to cause sickness or death in a supernatural way.

de Boinod, Adam Jacot. 2013. “The man who kept the Lakota language alive”. The Guardian. Posted: June 23, 2013. Available online:

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