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MSU Mankato becomes 2nd MN university to offer Dakota language courses

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Minnesota State University, Mankato is the latest institution in the state to offer American Indian language and culture courses.

Students will be able to take the Dakota language courses beginning this fall, a news release says. The two-semester course will introduce students to basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in Dakota language – one of Minnesota's heritage languages.

MSU Mankato President Richard Davenport said the language classes will help preserve "the rich and proud culture and heritage of the Dakota people in our region and in the state of Minnesota," the release notes.

Adjunct faculty member Glenn Wasicuna, a first-language Dakota speaker, will teach the course.

"This will be the first time Dakota is offered on campus and it's also the only offering of Dakota language on any of the campuses in the MNSCU system," Department of World Languages and Cultures chair Greg Taylor told KEYC.

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

Last year, the Duluth School District approved an Ojibwe immersion program for one of its elementary schools.

MSU Mankato's decision to offer Dakota language courses comes after several years of discussion between the university and education departments of the four Dakota communities in the state: The Upper Sioux Community, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Prairie Island Indian Community.

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