Reviving the First Language Spoken in Massachusetts
With Thanksgiving approaching, Kasey and I were talking about the Wampanoag community and what one woman has been doing to revive their native language, 'Wopanaak' - Massachusetts' first language.
Back in 1992, Jessie 'Little Doe' Baird, founder of a project to preserve the language and teach it to the children, was aware that more than 40 percent of the world's languages are vulnerable to extinction. Since then, she has been dedicated to reclaiming the Wopanaak language, after being dormant for the past 150 years.
To be able to understand and speak the language means to see the world as the Wampanoag families did for centuries before. Now the language is being taught in the public school system in Mashpee. Even though she says that it's not humanly possible for one person to reclaim something that's social in nature, the fact that young students are learning the language of their great great grandparents, that hasn't been spoken for so long, is bringing back to life the tribe's sacred privilege and right - their beautiful ancestral language.