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Brown University
Alumni Magazine
August 30, 2020

A Language, Liberated

White settlers silenced the Wôpanâak language for generations. Nitana Hicks Greendeer ’03 is a leader in the effort to bring it back.

Head of School Nitana Hicks Greendeer with her youngest child, Emilia

USA Today
August 27, 2020

Jessie "Little Doe" Baird is one of USA TODAY's Women of the Century. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, they assembled a list of 100 women who've made a substantial impact on our country or our lives over the past 100 years. Read about them all at usatoday.com/WomenoftheCentury.

jessie "little doe" baird

Credit:  Hannah Gaber with Aubrey Wilsey,  USA TODAY

WCAI
July 19, 2020

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Member Alyssa Harris, a 2020 graduate of Mashpee High School, made history by becoming the first student in the history of the Commonwealth to pursue the state Seal of Bi-Literacy in an indigenous language.

WCAI's Queen Banda interviewed Alyssa and her mom Judi about the process.

Alyssa Harris, left, shown with her mother, Judi Urquhart, right.

WCAI
January 23, 2018

Learning a new language has long been a requirement at most American high schools. While the typical offerings include Spanish, French, and Latin, in Mashpee, a small group of students is taking on a language that hasn’t been spoken fluently in centuries. WCAI’s Kathryn Eident has more on the Wôpanâak Language class at Mashpee High School.

The students Mashpee High School's first Wôpanâak language class.

Credit: Kathryn Eident/WCAI

Associated Press
November 21, 2017

The Massachusetts tribe whose ancestors shared a Thanksgiving meal with the Pilgrims nearly 400 years ago is reclaiming its long-lost language, one schoolchild at a time. “Weesowee mahkusunash,” says teacher Siobhan Brown, using the Wampanoag phrase for “yellow shoes” as she reads to a preschool class from Sandra Boynton’s popular children’s book “Blue Hat, Green Hat.” The Mukayuhsak Weekuw — or ”Children’s House ” — is an immersion school launched by the Cape Cod-based Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, whose ancestors hosted a harvest celebration with the Pilgrims in 1621 that helped form the basis for the country’s Thanksgiving tradition.

Credit: Steven Senne/AP

WBUR
August 24, 2017

In a small classroom in the headquarters of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, children recite words in the language of their ancestors.

The name of the school is Mukayuhsak Weekuw, or "the children's house." There are 13 kids — kindergartners and 3- and 4-year-olds — who began studying when the school opened in September last year. The school is predicated on the work of Jessie Little Doe Baird, a linguist and member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe who almost single-handedly saved the language from extinction.

Credit: Jesse Coista/WBUR

Public Radio Int'l
December 29, 2016

The Wampanoag nation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island has more than 2,000 tribal members, but until recently, none of them actually spoke their own language. The Native tongue disappeared soon after English settlers arrived in the area in the 17th century." There was a very brief period where Wampanoag and English co-existed, but unfortunately the great migration happened. Tens of thousands of English immigrants poured into New England and largely began to displace Wampanoag people from their homelands," said Jennifer Weston, immersion school developer for the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.

Credit: Shondiin Silversmith/PRI's The World

Cape Cod Life
October 2015

It started with a vision. In 1993—some 14 years before federal recognition of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe—Jessie little doe Baird, a member of the tribe, began having dreams in which people were speaking a language she had never heard. In one dream, they were chanting in this mysterious tongue, and someone said, “Ask Jessie. She knows what it means.”

Credit: Kelly Cronin Bicknell/CCL

Cape Cod Times
March 16, 2015

Plans for a charter school designed to immerse students in the Wopanâak language are moving forward despite missing the cut for state approval last year.

The Weetumuw Wôpanâak Charter School was one of seven groups that submitted a prospectus to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education last summer and was one of two that did not move on to the final application process. Ultimately no independent charter school proposals won approval to open, although two based in local school districts were approved by the state Board of Education.

Credit: Jason Kolnos/Cape Cod Times

Cape Cod Times
August 25, 2014

A proposed charter school designed to immerse young children in the Wopanaak language is in the mix for state approval this year, but organizers are still waiting for an invite to make their pitch. The Weetumuw Wopanaak Charter School is part of the Wopanaak Language Reclamation Project, which aims to preserve and revitalize the native tongue of the Wampanoag ancestors. 

Boston Globe
June 9, 2013

When Doug Pocknett Jr. showed up for his first day of kindergarten, classmates teased the Mashpee Wampanoag boy for his distinctive hair, worn in the long, braided style of his tribe. “The students and teachers really didn’t embrace Doug and his culture,” said his mother, Allyson Pocknett. But 12 years later, many of those same students stood in unison and gave Pocknett a heartfelt ovation after he read a traditional blessing to kick off Mashpee High School’s graduation on Saturday.

Credit: Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

The Mashpee Enterprise
May 2013

For the first time in 20 years, Jessie C. Baird has no doubt that the effort to bring back the language of the Wampanoag people will succeed, with or without her. “I can honestly say that if something happens to me, the project can continue,” said Ms. Baird (Little Doe) in a recent interview. “We will open a charter school. There will be more and more speakers.”

Credit: Gene M. Marchand/Enterprise

The Mashpee Enterprise
November 30, 2012

Jessie C. Baird was shopping in a Mashpee supermarket a few weeks ago when she overheard two people greet each other in Wôpanâak, the Wampanoag language. She scurried down the aisle to get a look, but they had moved on before she could see who they were. It was a heartwarming moment for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe member, who has spent the last 20 years reviving the tongue of her ancestors, a language silent for more than 100 years prior.

Credit: Elsa H. Partan/Enterprise

Yankee Magazine
October 9, 2012

Kuweeqâhsun … This was the first word that Jessie Little Doe Baird spoke to her daughter, Mae, the day she was born. The birth hadn’t gone as planned. Jessie had spent most of the last four months of her pregnancy in bed. She was 40 years old and already had four grown children, but Mae was no accident. Jessie took this last risky plunge into motherhood with her eyes wide open.

Credit: Jonathan Kozowyk/Yankee Magazine

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