Lakȟótiyapi Okáȟtaŋ Wičhóičhaǧe Inc. (LOWI), the new Eagle Butte-based Lakota immersion school set to open in January, invites the community to an open house and information session on Saturday, Dec. 1. Scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event will take place at the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s “The Main” youth center, located at 702 4th St. in Eagle Butte.
At the information session, family members will have the opportunity to ask questions, tour the facilities, meet school staff and board members, and register their children. Principal Manny Iron Hawk will be on hand for the event, as will Business Manager Kathleen Eagle Chasing and Board Member Renee Iron Hawk.
“We’re looking forward to hosting LOWI and our community members on Dec. 1,” says Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “It will be a wonderful opportunity for families to learn about this important school opportunity for their kindergarten-age students. And, while they learn more about the school, they can enjoy refreshments and door prizes.”
In addition to CRYP, LOWI also has the support of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River school system and the Lakota Language Consortium, a nonprofit that is dedicated to the revitalization of the Lakota language. According to the consortium, the LOWI initiative is particularly exciting due to the longstanding need for a Lakota immersion program in Eagle Butte.
LOWI will welcome its first class of 20 kindergarten students this January. The school will offer all instruction in Lakota, incorporating subjects like math and science as well as Lakota traditions and culture; its goal is to develop second-language fluency. The Main at CRYP will be the interim site of the first class, while construction continues on the permanent school site.
When asked for his thoughts on the opening of LOWI, Iron Hawk simply says, “Woihánble wan wanna iyečetu — The dream has come true.”
The Lakota language has always been important to Iron Hawk, and to his teenage daughter Claudia (both pictured above). It lies at the center of their lives, and it gives them both a powerful sense of purpose. This past summer, the duo visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck, North Dakota, to discuss family history—and Lakota as a force for healing. Visit http://news.prairiepublic.org/post/lakota-father-and-daughter-working-revitalize-their-language to listen.
Lakȟótiyapi Okáȟtaŋ Wičhóičhaǧe Inc. (LOWI), meaning “immersed in the language” in Lakota, is a new Eagle Butte-based Lakota immersion school on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. The school will provide all instruction (including math and science) in Lakota and teach about native traditions and culture. LOWI is a community-driven cultural space meant to preserve cultural memory for generations to come. Visit lowischool.org to learn more.
The Lakota Language Consortium is a 501c3 nonprofit working to revitalize the Lakota language and support a new generation of Lakota “Language Warriors” by producing language materials, teacher trainings, language school curriculum, media/advocacy projects and more, serving more than 50 schools, hundreds of teachers, and 20,000+ students. For details, visit https://lakhota.org.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities. For more information, visit www.lakotayouth.org.