The Curry College Honors Program recently welcomed renowned Native-American linguist, activist, and MacArthur Fellow Jessie Little Doe Baird to campus to discuss her work with Wampanoag, the language of her Algonquin ancestors. After an introduction by her niece - Health and Wellness major Dominique Fry, Class of 2019 - Baird shared her ongoing efforts to restore the use of Wampanoag in the present day.
Tens of thousands of Native Americans in southeastern New England spoke Wampanoag as recently as the 17th century, Baird told students, faculty, and staff. Its prevalence plummeted, however, after the arrival of European settlers in the Americas.
Baird described Wampanoag as a vital part of Native-American cultural heritage and detailed her work with the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, an intertribal effort aiming to return fluency to the Wampanoag Nation.
Those interested in learning more about Baird and her work can watch the PBS documentary about her and read or listen to an NPR interview with the film's Director Anne Makepeace.
Photo courtesy of Prof. Jayson Baker