Lakota elders helped a white man preserve their language. Then he tried to sell it back to them.

Culture June 3, 2022 Culture
Lakota elders helped a white man preserve their language. Then he tried to sell it back to them.

From NBC News by Graham Lee Brewer

Ray Taken Alive had been fighting for this moment for two years: At his urging, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council was about to take the rare and severe step of banishing a nonprofit organization from the tribe’s land.

The Lakota Language Consortium had promised to preserve the tribe’s native language and had spent years gathering recordings of elders, including Taken Alive’s grandmother, to create a new, standardized Lakota dictionary and textbooks.

But when Taken Alive, 35, asked for copies, he was shocked to learn that the consortium, run by a white man, had copyrighted the language materials, which were based on generations of Lakota tradition. The traditional knowledge gathered from the tribe was now being sold back to it in the form of textbooks.

Photo by Tara Rose Weston for NBC News

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