With funding provided by a Minnesota Art and Cultural Heritage Grant (administered by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council), Metropolitan State University is offering a 2013 summer Dakota language course taught by Dakota language instructor Joe Bendickson. As a part of this course, there is also a Dakota language website that will support the learning of Dakota language.
This synchronizes with the university mission of creating curriculum pertinent to Native American communities and creating a lifelong learning environment that supports adult learners.
The university understands that the Dakota language is needed by Dakota communities because there is a severe shortage of language speakers. This problem has been ongoing for quite some time. The wherewithal to finally deal with how to revive the language has come about in the last decade or so. The initial start of language revitalization in Dakota communities has become more consistent with funding and interest in language programs. The university is the latest educational institution to receive grant monies from the state of Minnesota to implement both the language summer program and website. The Native American staff at the university initiated the idea to offer language instruction. The website is available to more than just Metropolitan State University students because the university recognizes that taking a formal class is not the only way to study language.
The Dakota language is important for Dakota communities because it is a part of their unique worldview and history. Dakota communities are aware of what past generations went through and see the bringing back of language as a means of empowering their communities. Dakota individuals and groups have taken it upon themselves to study the language and to spread the word that the language is vital to the culture.
Metropolitan State University is a comprehensive urban university committed to meeting the higher education needs of the Twin Cities and greater metropolitan population. The university will provide accessible, high-quality liberal arts, professional, and graduate education to the citizens and communities of the metropolitan area, with continued emphasis on underserved groups, including adults and communities of color. Within the context of lifelong learning, the university will build on its national reputation for innovative student-centered programs that enable students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their educational goals. The university is committed to academic excellence and community partnerships through curriculum, teaching, scholarship and services designed to support an urban mission.