Credit Union Continues to Showcase Lakota Language in Commercials

The Black Hills Federal Credit Union released a 30-second commercial titled “Mitakuye Oyasin,” its third commercial to feature the Lakota Language.

A South Dakota credit union has launched its third television commercial featuring the Lakota language, joining the original spot, that won several awards from the American Advertising Federation of the Black Hills last year.

Black Hills Federal Credit Union, based in Rapid City, released the 30-second commercial, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” in December and plans to air it on commercial and cable television stations in the Rapid City and Sioux Falls markets.

It shows three Native American riders on horseback with a voiceover that in English translates to “You and I, are not so different. I see the sun rise and fall and you as well. So... let us... see it together."

The $1.1 billion asset cooperative released its first Lakota language commercial, also 30 seconds long, late in 2015. That one, voiced over by a Lakota man and called “Tiospaya Wicasa,” shows a family traveling in a motor home towards the Black Hills. A second version, voiced over by a Lakota woman, is called “Tiospaya Winyan.” A third version is in English.


The voiceover is “Takuwe Manza ska unyuhapi na wopatan na iglawa takukin eyuha hedin takuni sam Maka akanya ohola unyunpisni—Tiospaya kin he eh.” In English the translation is “The reason we have money and savings, loans and interest rates, and just about everything else in this world is because there’s one thing that’s worth more than all of it put together – family.”

The commercial was done in collaboration with the Lakota Language Consortium, which is based in Pierre, South Dakota and is dedicated to preserving the Lakota language.

Both commercials were produced with Jackalope, a Rapid City-based marketing and communications firm.

The credit union is active on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe reservation, where BHFCU has had a member service center in Eagle Butte since 2012, after taking over CR Community First Federal Credit Union, which operated on the CRST reservation.

Carol Brown, vice president of marketing and business development at Black Hills Federal, said the credit union has received tremendously positive feedback for the commercials. She said it plans to do a Lakota language commercial every year.

She said the credit union is also quite happy with its experience on the CRST. It has an office in the basement of the tribal housing authority, a mobile unit, and plans to build a brick-and-mortar branch within the next two years. It also was able to offer debit cards to residents on the reservation for the first time.

Brown said the credit union has Lakota employees throughout its locations, including Cheyenne River. Black Hills Federal also has a large contingent of Lakota members, she said.

The original Black Hills Federal Credit Union campaign last year won Jackalope Best of Show and a gold American Advertising Award at the AAF-Black Hills awards show, as well as several silver awards.

According to AAF, the credits on the Lakota language ad for Jackalope include Fremdton Kollektiv – composer; Karin Eagle – Oglala Lakota cultural advisor; Reuben Fast Horse–Oglala Lakota translator/Wicasa voiceover and Belva Janis – Oglala Lakota translator/Winyan voiceover. Alicia Villa was the production assistant.

Jackalope sees the commercial as part of a larger movement to preserve the Lakota language. Through a partnership, Jackalope said it will offer Lakota translation services for free to any business or organization seeking to translate its advertising.

“I wanted to faithfully represent that sense of place in South Dakota’s diversity by celebrating Native American language and culture and speaking directly to a population that makes up 10 percent of South Dakota,” said Jason Alley, principal and head creativor of Jackalope.

The two Lakota commercials, “Tiospaya Wicasa” and “Tiospaya Winyan,” focus on family. This idea of family guided the ad’s creative development, which aimed to take a mainstream financial institution and translate its benefits through concepts familiar and important to Native Americans, according to Jackalope.