Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal member Jessie Little Doe Baird was one of 23 recipients to receive $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, awarded for her dedication toward reviving the Wampanoag language.
Recipients can do what they want with the money but Little Doe said she has a number of possible uses in mind, including donating some to the Mashpee's language department, creating software to teach the language and starting a language school devoted to the Mashpee language.
Little Doe, the program director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, said that her 6-year-old daughter is the only child since the 1800's raised to speak the language since birth.
The language reclamation project is a collaborative effort that includes the Assonet, Mashpee, Aquinnah, and Herring Pond Wampanoag communities. Little Doe is also one of the principle authors of a 10,000-word Wampanoag-English dictionary.
Little Doe said, “The opportunity to hear what my fifth great-grandfather had to say, even though he’s gone, because he wrote it down, really is a powerful motivation."
See article by Laura Collins-Hughes "‘Genius grant’ a boost to linguist as she revives a native language," The Boston Globe, (Sept. 27, 20101), http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/articles/2010/09/28/reviving_wampanoag_earns_linguist_a_genius_grant/
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