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Native American student wins $10K grant to build Lakota game

April 5, 2019 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A Native American student at Dakota State University has been awarded a $10,000 grant to design a computer game to teach the Lakota language.

Carl Petersen, a DSU junior, will travel to Washington, D.C., later this month to accept his grant award from the national Dreamstarter program, which aims to help Native American youth launch community projects.

Petersen told the Argus Leader that he wants to create a tool “that would allow people to hear conversational Lakota” and could be implemented in schools.


He’s planning to develop a computer game called Tipi Builder, which will teach conversational Lakota while engaging players to build a tepee. The project aims to protect the language and ensure that future generations can speak it.

“If it dies then that part of the people is gone and then you have no more culture,” Petersen said.

The 21-year-old studied Lakota while growing up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Parade. When he left the reservation for university, he spoke his ancestors’ language at a grade-school level.

Petersen said Tipi Builder will be more interactive than other software models that are traditionally used for learning new languages.

He plans to release the game in 2020 and hopes to make it available on mobile platforms in the future.


Information from: Argus Leader,