August 18, 2015

Contact: Susan Helmink

August 18, 2015
Correction: For Immediate Release:

Groundbreaking New Documentary
Raises Hope For Saving Lakota Language
Now Available on DVD

(Lincoln, Neb.): Vision Maker Media and the Language Conservancy announce the release of Rising Voices to DVD. The film tells the story about the struggles to save the Lakota language, braiding together the efforts of the Lakota to learn their tribal language today, the historical attempt by the United States to annihilate the language, the rise of immersion language schools, and the participation of outsiders in the rescue of the Lakota language. History is interwoven with present-day short films about the culture, created by Lakota filmmakers and artists.

Rising Voices is a portrait of a culture today, focusing on the myriad conflicts around the disappearing language on the Lakota reservations of North and South Dakota. The Lakota nation consists of 170,000 tribal members. Yet the language is clearly at risk -- just 6,000 people still speak Lakota now, and the average age of its speakers will soon be 70 years.

Before Columbus, Lakota was one of 300 Native languages spoken north of Mexico. Today only half of those languages remain; experts say that by the year 2050 just 20 indigenous American languages will exist.

Today, Lakota tribal members, in partnership with non-Indians, struggle to save their native language by introducing a new way of teaching, brought to the Lakota reservations from faraway places like the Czech Republic and France. These methods are producing results; for the first time, schools are capable of creating fluent second-language Lakota speakers. The new methods are helping the Lakota language to find its voice again.

The threat to Lakota comes from two sources. One is history itself: for many decades the American government tried to defuse what its leaders saw as "the Indian problem" by deliberately eliminating all aspects of Indian cultures. From 1879 on, thousands of Lakota (and other Native American) children were sent away to English-only boarding schools like Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which cut off their hair, enforced Christianity, and routinely beat children for the offense of speaking their native languages. Native Americans, it was thought, could only be assimilated into mainstream American society if they spoke English and only English exclusively.

After years of attempting to destroy North American culture and annihilate Native American languages--too often with great success--the government eventually did an about-face. Today the United States officially recognizes the value in diversity in both culture and language.

The Lakota language expresses the history of the tribe and its culture, and serves as a point of pride and tribal connection to the  Lakota people. The history of the Lakota language is interwoven with two other elements in the film: 1) present-day scenes of people wrestling with both the language and the hard facts of their lives, and 2) four short films about the culture, created by Lakota filmmakers and artists themselves especially for Rising Voices/Hótȟaŋiŋpi.

Rising Voices/Hótȟaŋiŋpi , a film by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey, is a production of Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc. in association with The Language Conservancy. The project is funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Administration for Native Americans, The Dakota Indian Foundation, the South Dakota Humanities Council, and the North Dakota Humanities Council and Vision Maker Media with major sponsorship provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Executive Producer for The Language Conservancy, Wilhelm Meya; Executive Producer for Vision Maker Media, Shirley K. Sneve. © 2015. The film is distributed through American Public Television (APT.)
Rising Voices, a one-hour documentary, is now available on www.shopvisionmaker.orgU.S., 2015, 57 minutes, Color, DVD.

DVD with Public Performance Rights: $225.00
Home: $29.95

To place an order:
Or call 877-868-2250.

About Vision Maker Media
Vision Maker Media shares Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Founded in 1977, Vision Maker Media, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, nurtures creativity for development of new projects, partnerships, and funding. Vision Maker Media is the premier source for quality Native American and Pacific Islander educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media--to be the next generation of storytellers. Located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we offer student employment and internships. For more information, visit

Additional Information Regarding
Rising Voices (1/60):

Type of Feed: Station Feed
Feed Date/Time: Start: Friday October 30, 2015
End: Friday October 30, 2015



A film by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey.

Executive Producer: Wilhelm Meya.

Rising Voices is a co-production of Florentine Films/Hott Productions and Vision Maker Media. 



Major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Vision Maker Media.  


Film Pages:


Official Website:


Vision Maker Media:


DVD Distributors:

Vision Maker Media

1800 N. 33rd Street

Lincoln, NE 68503-1409



The Language Conservancy

2620 N. Walnut St., Suite 810

Bloomington, IN 47404


Crew Bios:
Lawrence Hott, Producer/Director
Lawrence Hott: Producer/Director
Lawrence R. Hott has been producing documentary films since 1978, when he left the practice of law to join Florentine Films. His awards include an Emmy, two Academy Award nominations, a George Foster Peabody Award, the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, the Erik Barnouw Award, five American Film Festival Blue Ribbons, 14 CINE Golden Eagles, screenings at Telluride, and first-place awards from the San Francisco, Chicago, National Educational, and New England Film Festivals. 

Hott was the Fulbright Fellow in Film and Television in the United Kingdom in 1994. He received the Humanities Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in 1995; a Massachusetts Cultural Council/Boston Film and Video Foundation Fellowship in 2001; and the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism in 2001. He has been on the board of non-fiction writers at Smith College and has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Commission, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Director's Guild of America.

His recent films include Through Deaf Eyes, American Masters John James Audubon: Drawn From Nature, The Return of the Cuyahoga, Imagining Robert, Niagara Falls, and The War of 1812.

Diane Garey, Producer/Director
Diane Garey received an Emmy, a Peabody, a duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and an Academy Award nomination (and numerous other honors), and is a registered nurse as well. Her 1988 film, Sentimental Women Need Not Apply: A History of the American Nurse, is used in most nursing and medical schools in the country.

Wil Meya, Executive Producer
Wil Meya is Executive Director of Lakota Language Consortium and one of the founding members and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Prior to his position at Lakota Language Consortium, he was Associate Instructor of Anthropology at Indiana University. Meya started working with the Lakota language about 20 years ago while working on his anthropological linguistics doctorate at Indiana University. While he worked with the Pine Ridge, Standing Rock, and Cheyenne River communities, Meya saw a need for teacher training and more materials, which led to The Language Conservancy helping with his work.

Download the Full Press Release:
Susan Helmink, Director of Communications
Vision Maker Media | 402-472-8607

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