Russians visit Standing Rock to talk native language

Sep 16, 2014

A delegation from Russia spent much of last week in North Dakota – specifically on the Standing Rock Reservation.

The group was sponsored by the Open World Program – which is run through the Library of Congress and is funded by Congress.

"We are dealing with preservation, conservation and preservation of our native languages," said Olga Tronina, who spoke through an interpreter. "I was very interested in observing the way the indigenous people live, and how they develop and revive their language."

Tronina says what she found surprised her.

"I was personally surprised by the fact that very few Native Americans can speak their own language," said Tronina.

The group had a chance to visit a Lakota language class on Standing Rock. Another group member – Bogdan Anfinogenov  – says there is a real drive in Russia to have young people learn and preserve their native languages and culture.

"As far as I'm concerned, this was an experience that allowed me to understand more about the lives of other people in my republic," said Anfinogenov. "I realized that the issue of language and language policy is very important."

The Russians are hoping Native American tribal leaders will be able to send a delegation to Russia – allowing them to experience how the Russian government is handling the native language issue.