August 26, 2011

Wampanoag word games and children's TV

Cape Cod’s first language is spoken again

Many are studying Wopanaak

By Ellen ChaheyAccording to literature from the project, “Recognizing that the colonists preferred” written documents, the native people of Cape Cod “became the first American Indians in the English-speaking New World to develop and use an alphabetic writing system…to record personal letters, wills, deeds, and land transfers amongst each other and between communities.”

As preliminary work, the language project has created a dictionary, some Wampanoag-based word games, coloring and storybooks, and even a three-day “immersion camp” where only the native language is spoken. A major characteristic of the language that Hicks called “complicated” is that it does not distinguish between genders but does separate “animate” and “inanimate.”

The organizers hope to create a children’s television program, an interactive website, a school, and other teaching venues to help revive the language. The goal, said Hicks, is “to get everyone” in the tribe “to the level they want” in language fluency.

Little Doe, who began the reclamation project in 1993, won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in October 2010 for her efforts.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see We Still Live Here Âs Nutayuneân and Documentary on Reviving Wampanoag.

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