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Dakota Language Camp

Dakota Language Camp celebrates Dakota, an ancient Minnesota language spoken by Native Americans. 

“It’s a language that just rolls off your tongue, beautiful, very pictorial,” Cultural Arts Coordinator Jay Ludwig said.

In Dakota, words flow in natural harmony with sentences ending with verbs. One has to listen closely to understand the true meaning. It is the Dakota way. 

Early settlers Samuel and Gideon Pond first put the language in written form. Missionaries like the Ponds wanted to teach the Bible in the language of the Dakota people. 

Today the language is languishing with the passing of elders. The Dakota Language Camp gets kids excited about speaking their native tongue. The hope is participants will spread that enthusiasm to their parents. 

During the ninth annual event, sponsored by Parks and Recreation, 58 participants learned to speak through songs, games, crafts and feasting. The three-day camp was held at the historic Pond House in the 40-acre Pond Dakota Mission Park along the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley. Prairie fields lined with trees provided the ideal backdrop for walks, games and other outdoor activities, even a tipi.