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Gender Diversity in Contemporary Očhéthi Šakówiŋ Languages

A working group for LGBTQ, Two-Spirit, and allied Očhéthi Šakówiŋ community members to discuss gender diversity in our language.


This working group will bring together LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer], Two-Spirit, and allied Očhéthi Šakówiŋ community members for a series of conversations about gender diversity in Očhéthi Šakówiŋ languages. The purpose of this working group is to identify how we can use Očhéthi Šakówiŋ languages in ways that are inclusive of our LGBTQ and Two-Spirit relatives and students. We will identify existing language for gender-diverse and sexuality-diverse Očhéthi Šakówiŋ people, and discuss how this language is currently being used in our communities.

Through this working group, we hope to empower LGBTQ and Two-Spirit Očhéthi Šakówiŋ language learners, and speakers with ways to refer to and understand themselves within the community. We also hope to support non-LGBTQ and non-Two Spirit Očhéthi Šakówiŋ language learners, teachers and speakers with the language to refer to their LGBTQ and Two-Spirit relatives and students in an affirming way. As facilitators, we do not claim to have the answers, but we want to ask the questions, and spark an ongoing conversation.


  1. Participants must be familiar with basic Dakota/Lakota grammar and language structures, particularly as related to kinship and gendered enclitics (phrase endings). This series will not provide language instruction. Before joining in August, participants must have already taken Dakota/Lakota Language - First Year (which is being offered in June 2021 in Dakota and Lakota), or have the equivalent knowledge.
  2. Participants must also have basic familiarity with LGBTQ and Two-Spirit issues and identities.
  3. In order to participate in this workshop series, participants must agree to each of the following:
    • Two-Spirit and LGBTQ people already exist in Lakota and Dakota communities. In this workshop series, we will not debate whether they exist, or have a right to exist.
    • Two-Spirit and LGBTQ people are valuable, positive additions to our communities.
    • Two-Spirit and LGBTQ people should be welcomed, included, and made to feel safe in our communities.
    • Lakota and Dakota are living languages that we can, and should, use in our daily lives and in our communities.
    • The purpose of our work here is to identify how we can use the Lakota and Dakota languages in ways that are inclusive of our LGBTQ and Two-Spirit relatives.
    • Exploring how we can use the Lakota and Dakota languages in ways that are inclusive of our Two-Spirit and LGBTQ relatives benefits everybody.

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