I’m doing research on the branch of the Sioux tribe called Lakotas. I’ve seen the name spelled both as Lakhota and Lakota. Which is the correct spelling?
Lakota is the English spelling and Lakhota is the spelling preferred by speakers of the language.
The Dakotan dialects contrast aspirated and unaspirated stops (ph vs. p, th vs. t, ch vs c, kh vs. k), whereas English does not, and these sounds are usually hard to pronounce for people who speak English as their first language, so are often ignored.
For speakers of Lakhota, the spelling Lakhota reflects the fact that the k in Lakhota is aspirated. Lakota is the preferred English spelling. Some systems of Lakhota spelling that do not mark aspiration also write Lakota.