Through the processes of religious conversion, laws against the use of the language, mainstream education, and commerce, the Wampanoag language ceased to be spoken around the time period of the mid 19th century. There were no fluent speakers of the language for six generations; over 150 years. The Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project began in 1993 under the direction of Jessie 'little doe' Baird who earned a Masters Degree in Algonquian Linguistics from MIT in 2000. Through the joint collaborative efforts of members of The Assonet Band of Wampanoag, The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah and the Herring Pond Band of Wampanoag, the project aims to return fluency to the Wampanoag Nation as a principal means of expression.


The Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project understands that it is the birth right of each Wampanoag child and adult to speak her or his Language given by Creator. The project successes to date are:


  • The only inter-tribal cooperative project for the tribes of the Wampanoag
  • The credentialed training of two Wampanoag linguists
  • Over fifteen certified language teachers
  • The development of a dictionary that currently holds over 11,000 words
  • The development of curriculum for second language acquisition of adult learners
  • The development of a no English curriculum for all ages
  • Immersion camp curriculum for all ages
  • 3-Week Summer Youth ‘Turtle’ Program for youth ages 5 – 13
  • Community language classes held in Mashpee, Aquinnah, Plymouth, New Bedford and Boston


The first American Indian language to reclaim a Language with no living speakers. There is a young child now being raised with Wampanoag as a first language. She is the first Native speaker of the language since the mid 19th century.

project history

Wôpanâôt8âôk (Wampanoag Language) is one of more than three dozen languages classified as belonging to the Algonquian language family. It was the first American Indian language to develop and use an alphabetic writing system. The primary reason for the development of an alphabet was the goal of the missionaries, arriving from England in the early 1600s, to convert the Wampanoag to Christianity. Religious documents began being put to press in the 1640s and the first complete bible printed in the ‘New World’ was published in 1663 in the Wampanoag language. It would not be long before the Wampanoag would use this medium as the principal means of communication with European newcomers throughout New England. Wampanoag also used the written document to record personal letters, wills, deeds, and land transfers amongst each other and between communities. In fact, some of the land transfers recorded took place 100 years earlier. Wampanoag literacy would rival that of English during the 18th century. The language enjoys the largest corpus of Native written documents on the continent. Through the processes of religious conversion, laws against the use of the language, mainstream education, and commerce, the Wampanoag language ceased to be spoken around the time period of the mid-19th century. There were no fluent speakers of the language for six generations; over 150 years. The Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project began in 1993 under the direction of jessie 'little doe' baird who earned a Master’s Degree in Algonquian Linguistics from MIT in 2000. Through the joint collaborative efforts of members of The Assonet Band of Wampanoag, The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah and the Herring Pond Band of Wampanoag, the project aims to return fluency to the Wampanoag Nation as a principal means of expression.

Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project