Berenstain Bears Try to Save Ancient Language

In animated TV first, they're speaking Lakota
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 14, 2011 3:53 AM CDT
The Berenstain Bears are speaking Lakota in a new animated series on public television.   (AP Photo/Random House Children's Books)
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(Newser) – For a typical family worried about messy rooms and money management, the Berenstain bears are killer linguists. The children's books featuring Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister Bear Berenstain have been translated into more than 20 languages for kids around the world. Now the Berenstains are even speaking Lakota, an ancient Sioux language, in a weekly television program. Matho Waunsila Thiwahe—Lakota for "Compassionate Bear Family"—is the first animated series ever translated into an American Indian language. It has begun airing weekly on public television in the Dakotas, and will run through the end of the year, reports AP.

The program is an attempt to help save Lakota before it fades to extinction. Fewer than 6,000 of the 120,000 members of Sioux tribes in the US still speak Lakota. "This is important for our children," said one of the few fluent speakers of the language. "I think it will help to realize that it is cool to be Lakota." The bears are "doing their part to save a language," said another Lakota speaker. "Kids love cartoons."

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