In partnership with the Mashpee Indian Education Parent Committee and staff, Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) youth language instructor Eleanor “Toodie” Jackson-Coombs leads 20 minutes of language activities for Tribal children enrolled at Mashpee’s Kenneth C. Coombs School on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. during the school year.
The language programming, which began in March 2014 at the invitation of the Mashpee Indian Education Program parent committee, marked the first time Wôpanâak language had been taught in Massachusetts schools in almost 400 years.
The earliest grammar and public schools in Wampanoag territory, or New England, were founded in 1635 in Boston, 1639 in Dorcester, 1643 in Rehoboth, 1644 in Dedham, and 1651 on Martha’s Vineyard. Some of these early schools, organized in part by English missionaries, included Wôpanâak language-speaking children from local communities where Tribal elders began advising and collaborating on early translations of the first King James Bible ever published in the Western Hemisphere.
Today several 17th century Wôpanâak bibles serve as key research documents for the WLRP team of linguists and community instructors who have worked since 1993 to reclaim the Wôpanâak language and offer free year-round community classes.
Jackson-Coombs is part of the WLRP team opening a Wôpanâak language immersion school with the Montessori Academy of Cape Cod in 2016. She enjoys teaching and singing in the language with Mashpee youth, and is grateful for the opportunity to practice her teaching and language skills in partnership with Mashpee Public Schools’ Indian Education Program.
Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) youth language instructors partner with Gertrude “Kitty” Hendricks at the Mashpee Wampanoag Museum and offer a weekly Wôpanâak Preschool Language Hour for Tribal preschool children and their caregivers.
Preschool Language Hour at the museum includes songs, games, and crafts. Preschool Language Hour is free of charge and open to all Tribal families and Tribal home daycare providers. Join us for some fun this fall, learning songs and playing games together in Wôpanâak!
Each summer, WLRP conducts a 3-week-long summer program targeted to Wampanoag tribal youth, ages 5-13. This program has been very successful and well regarded since it's inception in 2011.
The purpose of the program is to expose our youth to Wôpanâak language set within a cultural context.
Throughout the 3-week program period, Tribal children are immersed in language acquisition activities including the basics of alphabet, pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure, formation and syntax. Each morning consists of language instruction, then game playing within the language. Some of the proven language acquisition games include Ômash (Go Fish), Scrabble and Uno.
In addition to language activities, we also engage in daily physical exercise like track and field and daily stretching and warm ups. Each day then focuses on immersing our children in traditional Wampanoag ways: animal tracking, planting, canoeing, swimming, clamming, fishing, traditional dance, nature walks and more. As part of this curriculum, we also teach our children about the practice of cultivating and preparing healthy traditional foods as a means for building healthy bodies and long-term health benefits.
The combination of these activities gives our children a strong cultural understanding and appreciation and, thus, heightened cultural confidence and pride about who they are and how they fit into the world.
The Tuesday and Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. elders’ language class taught by Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) instructors Melanie Roderick and Toodie Coombs have been very popular since its inception back in 2014! The class is funded by a Tribal Health and Elders Services’ Title VI Administration on Aging grant. Melanie and Toodie have created a fun and interactive conversational class tailored to elders’ language requests, and they are happy to have any and all elders drop in at 11:30 a.m. or at Noon!
Each class is followed by a free luncheon in the Tribal Community and Government Center gymnasium prepared by local caterers according to healthy nutrition guidelines for elders. Elders do not have to attend the language class to attend the Tuesday and Thursday Title VI elderly nutrition program luncheons. ALL are welcome!
Please call Donald Peters in Tribal Health at (508) 477-0208 if you would like to sign up and attend the free lunches available for all those ages 55+.
Neekun is an after-school program for youth in Grades K-6 presented in partnership with the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project and the Mashpee Wampanoag Youth Program Department. Its purpose is to provide fun language & enrichment activities in a safe community environment in order to enrich students’ lives culturally, socially, and academically. Enrollment is available to 25 students.
Click on the button to the left for the registration packet which includes information about the program curriculum as well as a registration form.