When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, it was the Wampanoag of Southern Massachusetts who met them. They are credited in history books with helping the settlers survive in their new surroundings. Yet beyond the Thanksgiving narrative, their story, like the stories of Native people across the continent, is rarely told.
“We Still Live Here: s Nutayuneân” is a new film that documents the incredible effort of the Wampanoag cultural revival through language. Beginning in the 1990s, the Mashpee, Aquinnah, Assonet, and Herring Pond Wompanoag communities initiated the Wopanaak Language Reclamation Project after uncovering a trove of documents from the sixteenth century. The documents were written in their native language, which hasn’t been spoken in over a century and a half.
The documentary follows Jessie Little Doe Baird, a Wompanoag social worker, and her work to arm her community with the tools and skills to reclaim their mother tongue. A graduate of MIT’s renowned linguistics program and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant, she is also the proud mother of a six-year-old daughter, the first native Wopanaak speaker in seven generations.
“We Still Live Here” is a success story in progress, the story of a dedicated community of learners and teachers breathing new life into the words of their ancestors.
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