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Red Cloud School renames to Lakota-language 'Maȟpíya Lúta'

Red Cloud School.
Courtesy Red Cloud Indian School
Red Cloud School.

After well over a century of use, the historic Red Cloud Indian School will be getting a new name. However, the name isn’t exactly “new.”

The parochial school located on the Pine Ridge Reservation will now be named in the Lakota language – Maȟpíya Lúta – a translation of Chief Red Cloud’s name.

Jennifer Irving is the vice president of communications and marketing at the school. She said the idea for changing the name didn’t come from an administrator’s office.

“Really, we were inspired by our athletes – who years ago started requesting ‘instead of Red Cloud can we put Maȟpíya Lúta on our jerseys?’ It inspired the rest of us to catch up with our young leadership here," Irving said "That’s really where that change happened.”

Irving said a lot goes into a name.

“One of the things we were trying to be mindful of was how do we select a name that highlights not just our four schools, but six churches, the heritage center, and some of these broader community programs that we have," Irving said. "So, food sovereignty, truth and healing, we have a lot of work in Lakota language.”

While the school has a deep history, Irving said the decision is about much more than rebranding.

“In a way maybe it was about reclaiming some space, but I think it was really about honoring Chief Red Cloud and really committing further to Lakota language revitalization," Irving said. "How are we moving forward together?”

The rebranding process is already underway and will continue over the coming school year.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture