In 2002, AAIA started a intergenerational program of instruction in the Dakotah language called Dakota Iapi!, a two hour weekly class held during the evening and taught by a qualified Dakotah-speaking teacher. The program led to increased usage of the language, including bilingual signs at tribal businesses and the increased use of Dakotah within the tribal government.
The next phase of the project, called in the Dakotah language “Wakanyeja Kin Unspe” (Teach the Child), was started in 2003. This program involved AAIA working with the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Sisseton Wahpeton Community College to develop a pre-school immersion program or “Language Nest”.
In 2005, AAIA worked with the College to create the Family Dakotah Language Learning Center. The philosophy of the Center was to provide an immersion program for youth and language instruction for adults. This model program was later moved to the Enemy Swim Day School.
Another vital part of AAIA’s language program has been the development of Dakota-language materials for children, something that is otherwise not currently available. AAIA has created more than 80 children's books, videos and CDs in the Dakotah language. We also recently created a Dakotah language Scrabble game, including a 207 page dictionary of Dakota words for use in the game. The first Dakotah language Scrabble tournament took place in March 2006. We have also created and distributed a rap CD in the Dakotah language.
In 2007, we completed a K-2 Dakotah language curriculum. Lesson plans have been developed for 36 weeks of school for kindergarten, first grade and second grade as well as proposed Standards and Benchmarks, and CDs, books, games, flash cards and other materials have been developed for each lesson. These materials are designed to be translated into any Native language and the curriculum was recently translated into Ojibwe.
In 2008 and 2009, the language program embarked on a program to record elders speaking in Dakotah to preserve a record of fluent speakers and continued to create learning materials for schools. We also commenced a project to translate all of the books that have been created into Lakota.
Currently, the language program is working to develop materials for "new media", including a website dedicated to language learning, and podcasts for specific teachings, hearing conversation and learning language through song.