Lakota Berenstain Bears Keep the Language Alive

We are excited to share with you a Native language cartoon series based on the popular children’s book and television series, the Berenstain Bears. A collaboration of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Lakota Language Consortium, the Lakota Berenstain Bears Project exposes Native youth to the history of Lakota language.

The project translated 20 episodes of the Berenstain Bears television series into Lakota with the help of Native speakers from the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud communities across North Dakota and South Dakota. With Native speakers from so many Lakota-speaking communities, the show reflects the various dialects of the language.

Not only does this show present Lakota language well, but it also upholds the values of Lakota heritage touching on themes such as bravery, respect, generosity and fortitude. The collaboration selected the Berenstain family specifically for this project because the series focused on all of these values.

The series is officially called Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe and started airing on Public Broadcasting Stations in North Dakota and South Dakota in September of 2011. Several episodes can be viewed online, and all of the episodes are available on a DVD, which includes a 12-page episode guide for educators, parents, and children. A great resource for all ages, the Lakota Berenstain Bears can help keep the Lakota language and values strong in Native communities.

Check out the listing for this series on our Program Resources page. Have you already used this series in your Club? Or do you know of another resource like it? Tell us about it in the comments section below!