Reading & Literacy News in Brief

Berenstain Bears Help Young Lakota Learn an Ancient Language

By The Associated Press — September 20, 2011 1 min read

The Berenstain Bears have helped children curb junk-food addictions and organize messy rooms for half a century. Now, from their treehouse in idyllic Bear Country, Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and their cubs are helping revive an endangered American Indian language.

They star in what is believed to be the first animated series ever translated into an American Indian language: “Mathó Waúnsila Thiwáhe,” which is Lakota for the “Compassionate Bear Family.” For the series, 20 episodes of the Berenstain Bears were dubbed into the ancient language of the Sioux. It began airing last week on public television in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Disney’s classic movie “Bambi” was dubbed in Arapaho in the mid-1990s to help preserve that language and culture, but the translated Berenstain Bears series is a new way to help children learn words and phrases with each episode, said Wilhelm Meya, the executive director of Lakota Language Consortium.

Kenny Little Thunder and his wife, Bernadine, pose at the United Tribes International Powwow in Bismarck, N.D. The Little Thunders, of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, provided voices for several of the characters in the Lakota language-dubbed Berenstain Bears animated series that began airing this week on public television in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Fewer than 6,000 of the 120,000 members of Sioux tribes, who often identify themselves as Lakota, speak the language, and the average age of a speaker is 60, he said.

Mr. Meya’s nonprofit group, along with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and public broadcasting, produced the Lakota series with Lakota speakers from reservations in the Dakotas providing the voices. Berenstain Enterprises Inc. waived licensing fees for the project.

Jan Berenstain, who introduced the first Berenstain Bear books with her late husband, Stan, in 1962, said the Lakota project is important to help children learn the endangered language.

More than 260 million copies of Berenstain Bear books have been released in more than 20 languages, said Mike Berenstain, who writes and illustrates books with his mother.

Kenny Little Thunder and his wife, Bernadine, of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, provided voices for several of the bear characters and said they are among the youngest fluent Lakota speakers on the reservation. Most of the children from their generation were punished for speaking their native language at school, they said.

“This is important for our children,” Bernadine Little Thunder said of learning the language. “I think it will help to realize that it is cool to be Lakota.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 21, 2011 edition of Education Week as Berenstain Bears Help Young Lakota Learn an Ancient Language

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Whitepaper
These Top 5 Tips will help you get 90% of your Students Reading at Grade Level
So what does it take to get to achieve over 90% of students reading at or above grade level? Read our top 5 tips to find out!
Content provided by Learning Ovations
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Whitepaper
The Best Kept Secret Every K-3 Literacy Initiative Needs
In this whitepaper, you will read about how our professional support system has been proven to get over 90% of students reading at, or above, grade-level.
Content provided by Learning Ovations
Reading & Literacy Spotlight Spotlight on the Science of Reading
In this Spotlight, review what the science says about reading and rediscover the struggles commonly seen.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Whitepaper
Disciplinary Literacy: Strategies for Success
In this white paper, Angela Singer suggests that it is the responsibility of all educators to incorporate literacy instruction that promo...
Content provided by Mentoring Minds