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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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University to Offer Dakota Language, Culture Courses in 2015 Fall Semester

Courses to be taught by Glenn Wasicuna, a fluent first-language Dakota speaker.

2015-04-29
Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 4-29-2015

Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato will offer Dakota language and culture courses on campus beginning in the 2015 fall semester, becoming just the second college or university in the state to offer Dakota, one of Minnesota’s heritage languages.

The two-semester sequence will introduce students to the basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in Dakota language, embedded in cultural context. The Dakota language courses will be taught by adjunct faculty member Glenn Wasicuna, a fluent first-language Dakota speaker who has taught from the kindergarten level on up through adults at the university level.

“We’re honored to be able to offer Dakota language courses on campus beginning this fall,” said Richard Davenport, University president. “The courses will be greatly beneficial to Minnesota State Mankato students, but more importantly, they are a means for the University to contribute to preserving the rich and proud culture and heritage of the Dakota people in our region and in the state of Minnesota.”

Minnesota State Mankato students will be able to register for the Dakota language courses through the University’s Department of World Languages & Cultures and American Indigenous Studies Program. The courses are supported through a collaboration between the University’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and College of Arts and Humanities.

“Language is key to understanding how we interact with each other and the world around us,” said Kimberly Contag, interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “This is an exceptional opportunity for our students to experience the language, culture and even the world view of Dakota communities with one of the few first-language Dakota speakers in the region!”

“Dakota Language and Culture is a course whose time has come,” said Maria Bevacqua, acting dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is proud to be a part of this very important moment in the history of language revitalization. We are honored to work with the four Dakota communities to provide this course.”

Offering Dakota language courses culminates several years of discussions between Minnesota State Mankato and education departments of the four Dakota communities in the state—the Upper Sioux Community (Granite Falls, Minn.), the Lower Sioux Indian Community (Morton, Minn.), the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (Prior Lake, Minn.) and the Prairie Island Indian Community (Welch, Minn.).

For more information, contact Greg Taylor, associate professor and chair of the Department of World Languages & Cultures, by phone at 507-389-1815 or by email at gregory.taylor@mnsu.edu, and Chelsea Mead, assistant professor in the American Indigenous Studies Program, at 507-389-1302 or by email at chelsea.mead@mnsu.edu.

The University of Minnesota is the only other college or university in the state to offer the Dakota language as part of its curriculum. Bemidji State University offers Ojibwe language courses.

The American Indigenous Studies Program is part of the College of Social and Behavior Sciences at Minnesota State Mankato. The Department of World Languages & Cultures is part of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,376 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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