Our Mother Tongues Blog

One Year Later: The Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP)

December 1, 2011 - 8:43 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

While filming for WE STILL LIVE HERE: Âs Nutayuneân wrapped in summer 2010, editing, sound, and final touches to the finished documentary continued throughout the fall in preparation for the film’s public debut on the 2011 film festival circuit in January. The October 2011 launch of Our Mother Tongues as the film’s companion website, situated WLRP within the national context of the Native American language revitalization movement, and gave viewers of the national Independent Lens broadcast on PBS a window into a dozen diverse tribal communities from coast to coast—each with its own unique approach to implementing training programs and opportunities to produce fluent speakers, thus effectively extending the life of their local endangered mother tongue.


The tribal language programs featured on Our Mother Tongues are only a handful of the many hundreds growing and thriving among the 565 federally recognized American Indian tribes—and hundreds of state and locally recognized Indigenous communities—living throughout the United States and its territories. Our Mother Tongues will of course aim to add more programs to the site in the coming year, especially drawing from those already included in Cultural Survival’s Endangered Languages Program network of contacts among more than 300 Indigenous language programs.


One thing is certain: WLRP’s language work is proving to be a source of inspiration to many Indigenous communities, including those who must work to reclaim language through documentation, as well as for those tribes fortunate to still have living speakers. After the film’s screenings at festivals, language conferences, tribal colleges, community libraries, and in university classrooms, Q&A and discussion with audience members inevitably turns back to the recent progress made by Wampanoag language teachers and learners.


Read more about the latest and greatest from this tenacious community-based language project that is accomplishing what linguists like Noam Chomsky once considered “impossible!” In the latest issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly (CSQ), Endangered Languages Program Manager Jennifer Weston (Hunkpapa Lakota) and CSQ editor Barbara Sorenson profile WLRP’s master apprentice program in the magazine’s regular feature, “Women the World Must Hear: Awakening A Sleeping Language on Cape Cod.” The article explores language immersion methodologies like master apprentice programs that are creating successful language training environments for Indigenous communities, and also links to the Independent Television Service (ITVS) discussion guide for WE STILL LIVE HERE: Âs Nutayuneân, produced in collaboration with Cultural Survival’s Endangered Languages Program. Read the December 2011 CSQ article here.

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