Jessie Little Doe Fermino Baird, whom I mentioned here five years ago and is the subject of the article linked here, has been working for almost twenty years to revive the Wampanoag (or, more correctly, Wôpanâak) language, and I am pleased to learn from a Boston Globe story by Laura Collins-Hughes that she has won a MacArthur Fellows “genius grant” of $500,000:
Baird, one of the principal authors of a developing 10,000-word Wampanoag-English dictionary, does not view her personal role in reviving the language as critical. Instead, she talks about the benefits of being able to speak the language of her ancestors. “The opportunity to hear what my fifth great-grandfather had to say, even though he’s gone, because he wrote it down, really is a powerful motivation,” she said.
She hopes to spend some of the money to hire an artist to illustrate some of the children’s books she has written in Wampanoag.
In related news, Zvjezdana Vrzic is trying to revive Vlashki, the language of Istrian Vlachs: New York City Linguist Gives Dying Language In Croatia A Fighting Chance.