October 9, 1991: Stranded whales freed in Truro

1991: Stranded whales freed in Truro
The Wampanoag language has not been used in 100 years

1991: Stranded whales freed

Rescuers freed 18 stranded pilot whales that ran aground yesterday on Fisher Beach in Truro. All 18 were successfully herded into deep water at high tide and all apparently survived.

2000: Effort begun to reestablish the Wampanoag language

On this day in 2000 a local tribal member, Jessie Little Doe Fermino, started work to revive the Wampanoag language which has not been used in over a century, and Ms. Fermino is trying to make a spoken language out of a language that until recently existed only in documents, many of them from the 17th century.

The story in the New York Times this day in 2000 began:

Speak, Cultural Memory: A Dead-Language Debate

Over the last seven years, Jessie Little Doe Fermino, a member of the Mashpee tribe on Cape Cod, has been on a single-minded mission to revive the language of her ancestors, Wampanoag, the one that greeted the Pilgrims when they landed at Plymouth Rock and that gave the state of Massachusetts its name. But when she applied to the National Endowment of the Humanities for a grant to create a Wampanoag dictionary, she was turned down.

The apparent reasons: the Wampanoag language has not been used in about 100 years, the known descendants of the original speakers number only 2,500 and Ms. Fermino is trying to make a spoken language out of a language that until recently existed only in documents, many of them from the 17th century.

Read the complete story here.

A film on the rebirth of the Wampanoag language debuted in 2011


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