Video game to help people learn Lakota language

Local News

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) – Learning another language can be hard for anyone, but one KELOLAND student is hoping a video game will be a resource for people wanting to learn the Lakota language.

“You start and you’re in this field, and there’s the materials to create a tipi, poles, rope and a canvas– a traditional hide canvas that would go over a tipi,” student, lead designer/founder Northern Plains Games, Carl Petersen said.

But what makes it different is it’s in the Lakota language.

Dakota State University student, Carl Petersen, who grew up on the Cheyenne River Reservation, created the game ‘Tipi Kaga,’ which in the Lakota language means tipi builder.

“One of the ideas in making a game in Lakota, was first to allow people to engage with it, in a way it might be more difficult to engage with a more traditional text or even finding a fluent speaker, so it may make it a little easier for people to interact with the language,” Petersen said.

James Sierra is one of the students helping Petersen with the game.

“It’s been both interesting and challenging because you need to find time out of your day, because we are full time students and has been fun researching that I haven’t thought too much about before,” student, narrative specialist for Tipi Kaga, James Sierra said.

Petersen says he plans to release the game in 2020. He says the game can serve as a way to expose kids and other users to the culture.

“Be able to convey a traditional, cultural message and this is the tipi, a very important part of our history. This is how you build it, with the language as the rock, that can people can say this is part of my culture too. And I need to be able to understand this language and understand my culture,” Petersen said.

Petersen was able to help make this happen with the help of a $10,000 Dreamstarter Grant offered through Running Strong for American Indian Youth he received back in March. He used the money to start Northern Plains Games, which is a non-profit design studio that makes games in Lakota.

‘Tipi Kaga’ was also premiered at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto last week.

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