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To My Family, The Lakota Language is Freedom

A Family Finds Freedom Through Lakota Language

July 12, 2021
Leah Nichols headshot

Leah Nichols


A photograph of Faviola Leyva

Faviola Leyva

Video Producer

One Day collaborates with 19-year-old college student Winona Little Owl to share her family’s story of how they’re keeping the Native American language, Lakota, alive. According to the Lakota Language Consortium, less than 100 out of more than 500 Native American languages are still spoken in the United States. Lakota falls in the top five percent of surviving languages, being one of only eight Native American languages with over 5,000 speakers.

As a young boy, Winona’s atkúku (her dad), Denny Gayton, picked up an old Lakota grammar book and taught himself the language. He studied and spoke Lakota with elders in Standing Rock, his home. Then, Denny taught Winona and her little brother how to speak Lakota too. Now, Winona dreams of teaching Lakota to Standing Rock youth after college.

Watch the animated video to learn how Winona’s family found freedom through language and learned how to speak from the heart. 

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