WE STILL LIVE HERE
(2010, Director Anne Makepeace)
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017
4:00 – 6:00pm
University of Connecticut
Featuring a post-show discussion with
JESSIE LITTLE DOE BAIRD
Project Founder, Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project
We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân tells the amazing story of the return of the Wampanoag language, a language that was silenced for more than a century. The Wampanoag Indians’ forebears ensured the survival of the first English settlers in America – the ‘Pilgrims,’ and lived to regret it. A century ago, after nearly 300 years of contact, their language virtually disappeared. Now, spurred on by an indomitable Wampanoag woman named Jessie Littledoe Baird, recent winner of a MacArthur genius award for her unprecedented linguistic work, the Wampanoag are bringing their language and their culture back to life.
Like many Native American stories, this one begins with a vision. Years ago, Jessie Little Doe, a young Wampanoag social worker, began having recurring dreams: familiar-looking people from another time addressing her in an incomprehensible language. Jessie was perplexed and a little annoyed– why couldn’t they speak English? Later, she came to believe that they were speaking Wampanoag, a language no one had used for more than a century. These events sent her on an odyssey that would uncover hundreds old documents written in Wampanoag, lead her to a Masters in Linguistics at MIT with Noam Chomsky, and result in her accomplishing something that had never been done before – bringing a language with no Native speakers alive again. Her six-year-old daughter, Mae Alice, is the first Native speaker in a century.
The film interweaves contemporary verité scenes of language reclamation with commentary and expressionistic animation that reveal dark moments in New England history– epidemics, missionary pressures, land loss, and the indenture of Native children – that nearly obliterated Wampanoag culture Ruth Lingford’s devastatingly powerful animation provides powerful visuals as Wampanoags recount these horrific events. The film ends on a hopeful note, with an image of Jessie’s youngest daughter, the first Native speaker in a century.