How One Institution is Helping to Revive the Lakota Language

There are 170,000 members of the Native American Lakota tribe, most of whom live in North and South Dakota, but only 6000 speakers of the Lakota language. The average age of those speakers is approaching 70, meaning that without some kind of revitalization, the language could die out in a few generations.

Working to prevent that fate are staffers at the Lakota Language Consortium. Those at the institution are creating and encouraging a new generation of Lakota speakers with textbook development and teacher training for students starting at pre-school. Rising Voices, a new documentary on public television stations this month, shows these efforts to save the Lakota language in action.

One problem for language revival efforts is how to adapt the language to new concepts and ideas, or subjects that may not have had the opportunity to be discussed in the language before. The Lakota vocabulary is expanded through a yearly meeting where fluent speakers gather to coin new words to be used in teaching materials. They come up with words like wethebshala, meaning red blood cell, that take advantage of language features like compounding and suffixes. Wethebshala breaks down to we (blood)+theb (ball)+sha (red)+la (small), or small-red-blood-ball. 

In the scene above, the panel discusses a new word for Antarctica, exploring possibilities like “cold land” and “ice continent.”

To see more clips and the documentary trailer, visit the Rising Voices YouTube page. To see when it's airing near you, check the broadcast schedule

© 2017 USPS
Pop Culture
Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

Can You Spot the Christmas Pudding?

Whether it’s a sheep hanging out with Santa Claus or a panda bear hiding among some snowmen, regular Mental Floss readers know that hidden picture brainteasers are one of our favorite things. And the optical experts at have released a delicious one, just in time for Christmas. Somewhere in the midst of all these holiday-themed goodies above, there’s a holiday pudding just waiting to be discovered. Can you spot it? Your time starts … now.

If you give up, or are the kind of person who reads the last page of a book before the first one and just wants to know the answer, scroll down to see where it’s hiding.



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