In Lakota Society, the people greet each other by how they are related to each other. If there is no blood relation or if people are meeting each other for the first time and they do not know if they are related, they will call each other "cousin", using the correct gender kinship term. Then they will talk to each other to find out if they are related. If they are related then they will now use the correct kinship terms with each other.

"Hau" means "hello" and "yes" for men. When greeting someone a man will say, "Hau", followed by a kinship term. A long time ago, men who were in the same warrior society addressed each other by saying "Hau, Kola", as "Kola" indicates that each would die for the other one. Thus, "Kola" is a term used only for special friends.

"Han" means "hello" and "yes" for women. Women oftentimes address others by their kinship term such as "Cuwe" (her older sister), followed by "Lila tanyan wacin yanke" (it's really good to see you); or with words which express similar feelings of affection to one another. A woman's greeting is usually accompanied with much more warmth than a male's greeting. "Maske" is a term which women use for special friends only.

In actual Lakota conversation, usually the man will initiate the conversation by saying "Hau". Even though "Han" is the woman's word for "yes" and "hello", she will not initiate any conversations with this word. However, she may respond by saying "Han" to whoever has greeted her first. She may choose to say different greeting terms other than "Han". For example, when she is Person 1, she may initiate the greeting by first calling the person's name or by the kinship term which states how she is related to the person whom she is greeting. Next, she might say "Lila tanyan wacin yanke". This means "It is really good to see you". When she is Person 2, she may respond by saying "Han, mis eya" which means "Yes, me, too". Or she may just say "Han", as it is ok to respond this way as long as she is the one being greeted.

As previously stated in this lesson, when two people are meeting for the first time and they do not know if they are related to each other, they will address each other as "cousin", using the correct gender terms.

The dialogs in this text are usually written for two people. One speaker will be Person 1 or P1. The other speaker will be Person 2 or P2. Also, sometimes there will be a " / " between two words such as "Hau/Han". Whenever this occurs, the word on the left side of the " / " is the man's word and the word on the right side is the woman's word.

The english translation of the following Dialog is on the right side under the heading "Wasicuya". Also, in this Dialog, the male term of "Hankasi" which is the word for a female cousin is used.

Please press the Lakota sentence to hear how it sounds and to learn how to say it correctly.



(Cousin term), lila tanyan wacin yanke. Cousin, it is good to see you.
Hau/Han, mis eya. Yes, me, too.

Tokeske yaun he? How are you?
Lila tanyan waun.  Nis tok? I am fine. And you?

Mis eya.  Le anpetu waste. Me, too. This is a good day.
Hau/Han.  Anpetu waste. Yes. It is a good day.

Wana mazaskanskan tonakca he? What time is it now?
Wana mazaskanskan numpa. It is now two o'clock.

Hau/Han, hinhani kin wacin yakin kte. Ok, I will see you tomorrow.
Ohan, toksa ake. Yes, see you later.


David is also a certified Lakota Language & Culture teacher on the Cheyenne River Sioux Lakota Nation. For those of you who wish to learn the Lakota Language, click here. His Lakota Language book also has accompanying CD's to help you learn to pronounce the Lakota Language correctly. This book is also officially endorsed by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council, as well.

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