Lakota Memoirist, Delphine Red Shirt, and Whole Language
LaVona L. Reeves, Ph. D.
Lakota Sioux tribes’ traditions have helped them to heal a systematic transmission of trauma while maintaining strong bonds within their families and local communities. As discussed by Delphine Red Shirt, intricate relationships among identity construction, second language acquisition, and Native language attrition are explored. Lakota believe in educating the whole person—the body, the mind, and the spirit. Red Shirt tells, in her memoir, Bead on an Anthill, how stories of her elders and enculturation practices laid a foundation for her education and her career—as did her learning and retention of her Native language that was spoken in the home. The NCTE asserts that using Native stories and history for all Americans can help learners “develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.” Whole language approaches are especially effective for Native American learners because of its emphasis on the process of learning within a community that cares and supports growth in the learners. I explore how Geneva Gay’s “culturally relevant teaching” encourages students to relate to course content by writing and speaking about their own lived experiences that connect to what they are reading and viewing. These family and community connections help students feel valued and safe in the classroom.
Courser, Brittany, "Lakota Memoirist, Delphine Red Shirt, and Whole Language" (2020). 2020 Symposium Oral Presentations. 11.
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