January 4, 2021

FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) – The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is prioritizing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to those who speak Dakota and Lakota languages.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Mike Faith says it’s about keeping customs alive.

The Standing Rock reservation straddles the North Dakota and South Dakota border and is home to about 8,000 people.

Faith said only about 300 people on the reservation are fluent in the language.

Tribal Health Director Margaret Gates said the Lakota and Dakota speakers “are the most important asset to our tribe and people because of the language.”