The Berenstain Bears are a family of bears in Bear Country who deal with various situations in their bear society. Popular among children and educational professionals for 49 years, the Berenstain Bears have a series of books as well as cartoons and video games. According to “About the Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe TV Series,” the values in the original series such as bravery, respect, generosity and fortitude are shared by the Lakota culture.
The Berenstain Bears was therefore selected to be made into the first Native American language cartoon series, and after more than a year of work, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Lakota Language Consortium have begun airing episodes—two are being released each week, according to “Native American Version of Berenstain Bears Launches Soon.”
The Lakota Bears site is also making the episodes available to the public after airing. Two are available right now. The site also offers an introduction to the voice actors and the project, and will offer the DVD in November 2011.
It is common in cartoons for the characters to have different speaking styles or dialects, and one of the key features of “Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe” is that the characters have different Lakota dialects, representing all ways of speaking Lakota.
It can be difficult to capture the attention of children. This is a model project that will hopefully not only catch kids’ attention, but teach them strong values and assist them in learning to speak Lakota.