It's threatened with extinction. It's federal policy to destroy it. Only 14% of Lakotans speak their language. It's not shared inter-generationally.
The average fluent Lakotan speaker is 65 years old. In another generation or less, perhaps few or none will remain. Lakotan language skills aren't allowed or taught in US government schools. Nor is much of anything about native history and culture. America wants it destroyed and forgotten.
Lakotan struggle began with the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. They call it "fantasy" US history. France sold America 530 million Native land acres for $15 million. Lakotans owned part of it. They and other Native people weren't consulted.
They've been systematically ignored and violated. From 1778 - 1871, Washington negotiated 372 treaties. Their provisions were systematically spurned.
America's winning the West involved invading, encroaching, stealing, and occupying their lands. That's how imperialism works. It's the same everywhere.
Throughout the 19th century (and earlier), Washington engaged in military, legal, and political battles against Native Peoples. Their rights were contemptuously denied. They were displaced and exterminated. That's how today's America was created.
The 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie was systematically violated. So were provisions of all other treaties. From 1866 - 1868, Washington let the Bozeman trail go through the "Heart of the Lakota Nation."
It was a short cut to Montana's gold fields. Military forts were built on stolen land along its route. Doing so violated 1851 treaty provisions. Battles ensued. Washington negotiated peace. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty followed. Native People thought they won. Victory was pyrrhic and illusory.
The Supreme Court's 1883 ex parte Crow Dog decision made no difference. The Court recognized Lakotah freedom and independence. It ruled that tribes held exclusive jurisdiction over their internal affairs. It didn't matter.
The transcontinental railroad facilitated development, land and resource theft.
In 1885, Congress passed the Major Crimes Act. It extended US jurisdiction into Lakota territory. The same year, the last of the great buffalo herds were exterminated. At one time, they numbered 60 million. Native People relied on them for food.
In 1887, Congress passed the General Allotment Act (the Dawes Act). It ended communal ownership of reservation lands. It distributed 160-acre "allotments" to individual Indians. Tribes lost millions of acres. Wealthy ranchers exploit them today.
In 1888, Congress began prohibiting Indian Spiritual and Prayer Ceremonies. It was part of destroying Native culture. In 1891, a Commissioner of Indian Affairs was authorized. It was to assure Native People obeyed white man's laws.
Many more abuses followed. In Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903), the Supreme Court extralegally recognized near absolute plenary congressional power over Indian affairs.
It let US authorities steal tribal lands and resources freely. They did so on the pretext of fulfilling federal responsibilities.
Doing so abrogated fundamental indigenous rights unilaterally. The ruling was used to violate hundreds of treaties. Like other Native Peoples, Lakotans were grievously harmed.