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Lakota Perspective

The Lakota perspective is a world view which derives from the oral creation story of the Lakota people and is, therefore, a living, dynamic view handed down from generation to generation. At the base of this view is an unchanging adherence to the humanistic values of respect, generosity, wisdom, fortitude, bravery and humility. To see the world from the Lakota perspective is to understand that one must live each day guided by these values.

Important parts of the Lakota perspective are the skills of listening and sharing. No oral tradition can survive unless people know how to listen well and to share knowledge and wisdom. Decision making, governance, curriculum design, and classroom instruction depend upon the skills of all people involved to listen to each other and to share their views. Administrators, instructors, students, and the community all feel they must be heard. Classrooms, meetings and forums need to encourage listening and speaking to allow these needs to be met.

The Lakota perspective enters the classrooms of Oglala Lakota College in many different forms. It enters through the perspectives of our Lakota students, who must be encouraged to express their ideas to respectful listeners, fellow students and instructors. It enters through the use of Lakota materials: books, tapes, treaty documents, arts and crafts, song, dance, stories, and oral histories. It enters through the presence of people from the communities who share their memories, skills and wisdom with OLC students. It also enters through the use of the Lakota language either as the language of instruction, or as a vehicle for supplemental information.

The Lakota perspective, as a way of life, is supported in a powerful way by the treaties. The importance of the treaties is often overlooked, and that is a great danger. The treaties need to be studied, explored, and understood if the Lakota perspective is to survive in the generations to come. In implementing the Lakota perspective, we will observe the following guidelines:

  1. The Lakota values of respect, generosity, wisdom, fortitude, bravery and humility guide all activities at Oglala Lakota College.
  2. Structures within the college, including the classroom, accommodate a respect for listening and sharing so that students, faculty, staff and the community can all speak and be heard.
  3. The Lakota student perspective, Lakota materials, Lakota speakers, and the Lakota language are incorporated into every course to the fullest extent possible.
  4. The treaties will be studied, discussed, and understood in every way possible, as are the federal-tribal relationships and policies.

(statement from the 2003 Oglala Lakota Self Study Report)