Dakota Intermediate to Advanced Language Initiative (DIALI)

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Dakota Wicohan
Start Date
January 2014
End Date
June 2015
Activity Type
Project Overview

-Strengthen community capacity to revitalization Dakota language in MN
-Nurture language skills of 15 Dakota language leaders
-Create safe and secure Dakota-speaking community-based working environment that actively engages 10 beginning to fluent speakers
-Grow speaking and teaching skills for 8 intermediate Dakota language learners

About the Issue

Minnesota’s most enduring languages are in danger of disappearing. Without timely intervention, the use of Dakota and Ojibwe languages – like indigenous languages throughout the globe – will decline to a point beyond recovery.

These languages embody irreplaceable worldviews. They express, reflect, and maintain communal connections and ways of understanding the world. Deeper than the disuse of vocabulary or grammar, the loss of an indigenous language is destruction of a complex system for ordering the relationships among people and the natural world, for solving social problems, and connecting people to something beyond themselves.

 As languages are inherently inseparable from individual and communal identity, they are difficult to eradicate from a culture.  Severing the people from their lands, denying them sustenance, and forcing them into English-only boarding schools was not successful in destroying these languages.  For more than 100 years such assaults were aggressively pursued as the official policy of federal and state governments in the United States in attempt to eradicate the languages, and yet the languages of the Dakota and Ojibwe people survive.  The survival of Dakota and Ojibwe languages, however, remains threatened. Indigenous language revitalization now requires heroic measures in order for these languages to not only survive, but to thrive and to live on for future generations

Project Details

With this grant award, Dakota Wicohan will strengthen the Minnesota community’s capacity to reclaim and revitalize the Dakota language by nurturing the language skills of 15 Dakota language leaders. The program will create a safe nurturing Dakota-speaking community-based work environment that actively engages 10 beginning to fluent speakers as well as grows the speaking and teaching skills of at least 8 intermediate Dakota language learners (3 from Dakota Wicohan and 5 at-large) on their journey toward fluency.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013, Chp. 137, Art. 4, Sec. 2, Sub. 10 (b)
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Number of full time equivalents funded
Measurable Outcome(s)

We held seven screenings of our original new documentary entitled, Dakota Iapi Teunhindapi: We Cherish the Dakota Language and original documentary Dakota Wicohan produced on the history of the Dakota language in Minnesota. Our screenings reached over 250 individuals this fall and a cumulative total of over 630 viewers. In addition, another 1,000+ individuals saw an article in the Marshall Independent newspaper in December about the screenings, bringing our reach to at least 1,630 individuals. For each screening, Dakota Wicohan led an interactive discussion with the audience to promote an inclusive dialogue about the language, its importance to the Dakota identity, and strategies we can undertake to support language revitalization. As a take-away, all audience members recieved a copy of the 24 page four-color companion handbook Dakota Wicohan produced by the same name as the film, thanks to support fromt he Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Legacy Fund. This booklet provides additional background on the Dakota people of Mni Sota, additional resources, and a mini-introduction to studying the language.

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Dakota Wicohan
Street Address
PO Box 2, 280 Centennial Drive
Zip Code
Administered By
Administered by

161 Saint Anthony Ave
Suite 919
St. Paul, MN 55103