Just about everyone under the age of 50 has fond childhood memories of the Berenstain Bears. For decades, they have dominated children’s story hours in schools, libraries and homes. Over 260 of the books have been published in 20 different languages, and the Bear family has also made the leap from print to TV multiple times.
Now, the Bears are adding yet another language to their repertoire: the Native American dialect of Lakota. Spoken by the Lakota Sioux Nation, there are about 6,000 native speakers. While it’s stronger than many Native American languages, UNESCO still lists the Sioux language as a whole as “vulnerable.” As with other Native American groups, there is a generation of Lakota who were forcibly discouraged from speaking their own language as children. As tribe member Kenny Little Thunder told the Associated Press , “You couldn’t speak your language _ you were hit. They beat the language out of you.”