We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân (2011) Focuses on A Nearly Lost Language
What do you know about the Wampanoag tribe of Southeastern Massachusetts? If you know the Pilgrims would not have survived without them (a fact they lived to regret) than you know more than most Americans. The tribe is still in existence, and they have revived their ancient language, one that was nearly extinct.
Originally broadcast in November 2011, We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân will be shown on Independent Lens (PBS) as an encore presentation this week (check local listings). Filmmaker Anne Makepeace has been making cross-cultural films for 25 years, and We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, her most recent work was awarded the Full Frame Inspiration Award in Durham and the Moving Mountains Prize at the Telluride MountainFilm.
For many generations, there were no native speakers of the Wampanoag language, when Wampanoag social worker Jessie Little Doe and members of her community started a campaign that had never successfully been waged in the United States before: the revival of a lost American Indian language. Although not completely lost, it would take Jessie Little Doe’s journey that included a research fellowship at MIT, and “the discovery of a huge trove of documents written in Wampanoag, including deeds, contracts, and and entire translation of the King James Bible (published at Harvard in 1663)" to resuscitate it.
We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân is a fascinating documentary that details how Jessie’s MIT colleagues and the Wampanoag community brought the language back to life. The community, by unlocking their ancestors’ language, rediscovered their history and culture, which is now being passed on to a new generation of children.