For my blog’s Green Book I want to highlight all of the interesting and exciting ways endangered language communities are working to revitalize their ancestral tongues.
This one is particularly delightful: a partnership between the Lakota Language Consortium and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe last year began producing and airing episodes of the Berenstain Bears cartoon show in Lakota!
Since languages are considered endangered if children are no longer speaking them, revitalization efforts often focus on teaching the language and making it interesting to the younger generation of the community. I just love this example! I grew up on the Berenstain Bears, both the books and the show, and I still remember some of those stories – “The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies” was a particularly memorable one for me because…well probably because I tended to get the gimmies a lot at that age. Now Lakota-speaking children can hear the stories that were such a big part of my childhood, but in their own language and produced by their own community.
The website points out that this is the first cartoon series in a Native American language ever, and that the voice actors come from Lakota-speaking communities across North and South Dakota, so all of the local dialects are represented in the cast. Twenty episodes have aired so far, all of which are now available streaming on the website or on YouTube, and the whole project has been very well-received.
I love this. Did I mention that?