J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

“We Still Live Here” Screening, 16 Oct.

On Wednesday, 16 October, the Boston Athenaeum will host a screening of Anne Makepeace’s documentary movie We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, about the current effort to revitalize the Wampanoag language.

The Wampanoag were the first people to encounter the Pilgrims in 1620. Later English missionaries worked with converts to develop a writing system for their language and translate the Bible into it. In the 1700s, even as disease, war, and economic hardship strained the Wampanoag communities, their literacy rate is said to have rivaled that of British settlers in America.

In the following centuries, the Wampanoag community’s language nearly became extinct. Then in the 1990s Jessie Little Doe Baird, a Wampanoag social worker, began to have recurring dreams of her ancestors speaking to her in their native tongue. Those dreams inspired her to acquire a master’s degree in linguistics at M.I.T. and study hundreds of surviving documents written in the Wampanoag language. Eventually Baird developed a language education program with members of the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag communities.

After the screening of the film, the audience will be able to discuss it with assistant producer Jennifer Weston. Having grown up on the Hunkpapa Lakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, she now directs the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Language Department. Weston is also Associate Lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

This event will start with a reception at 5:30 P.M. The documentary will be shown from 6:00 to 7:00, followed by discussion until 8:00. Admission is $15 for Athenaeum members and $20 for others, and registration is required.

Folks who can’t attend this event can screen the film at home through Makepeace’s webpage.

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