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Thanksgiving tribe reclaims language lost to colonization
by Philip Marcelo

The Associated Press    Translate This Article
21 November 2017

On 21 November 2017 The Associated Press reported: The Massachusetts tribe whose ancestors shared a Thanksgiving meal with the Pilgrims nearly 400 years ago is reclaiming its long-lost language, one schoolchild at a time. The Mukayuhsak Weekuw -- or 'Children's House' -- is an immersion school launched by the Cape Cod-based Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, whose ancestors hosted a harvest celebration with the Pilgrims in 1621 that helped form the basis for [America's] Thanksgiving tradition. ... Jessie 'Little Doe' Baird, the tribe's vice chairwoman, is almost singularly responsible for the rebirth of the language ... Global Good News service views this news as a sign of rising positivity in the field of culture, documenting the growth of life-supporting, evolutionary trends.

The language brought to the English lexicon words like pumpkin (spelled pohpukun in Wopanaotooaok), moccasin (mahkus), skunk (sukok), powwow (pawaw), and Massachusetts (masachoosut), but, like hundreds of other native tongues, fell victim to the erosion of indigenous culture through centuries of colonialism. ...

Now in its second year, the immersion school is a key milestone in Baird's legacy, but it's not the only way the tribe is ensuring its language is never lost again.

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