Why Revitalizing The Wampanoag Language Is An Act Of Patriotism

Why Revitalizing The Wampanoag Language Is An Act Of Patriotism

Americans wouldn't have Thanksgiving without the language spoken from the other side of the table.
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Thanksgiving is an important holiday for America, as it represents the harmony of a feast that brings people of different races and entire families together. However, while the celebration continues to be cherished, the language spoken by the Wampanoag Nation did not. In this article, I want to explain why it is not just important to revitalize the Wampanoag language, but incumbent upon every American to assist in anyway.

After years of English encroachment and the resulting language shift, Wampanoag, or as it is currently being spelled Wopanaak, stopped being spoken in the 1800's. For the recent decades, the dormant language has been in the process of revitalization through the endeavor of linguist and Wampanoag native Jessie Little Doe Baird. There have been five different Wampanoag class locations throughout Massachusetts teaching 500 people.

By attending the language workshops sponsored by the Wopaanak Language Reclamation Project, the members would reclaim their identity. Come every Thanksgiving, they would play an incredibly important role in broadcasting their historical importance in feasting with their visitors from the Mayflower. By doing so, Thanksgiving would no longer be a holiday with kitsch enticements, such as the Black Friday sales that would come a day after; but an authentic and integral part of American identity that brings together natives and non-natives. The long-term effects of this language revitalization would help make the American population more well-educated about Thanksgiving.

Although the story of the meeting between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans was a little romanticized, it does show how diplomacy played a role in the early English settlements of America. For Americans to help with the revitalization process, it is itself a diplomatic act of awareness, letting the Wampanoag nation know that they are no longer ignored or pushed from American society. By providing assistance for the Wopanaak language revitalization, the government would attempt to right the wrongs that had been committed against the indigenous population, one nation at a time.

There were actually recorded documents written in Wopanaak during the 17th century. In fact, the Wopanaak language has the largest written body of work of all the other Native American languages. One of the most notable, and one that Jessie Little Doe Baird used as a main reference, was a copy of the Holy Bible written in Wopanaak by John Eliot, a missionary sent to convert the Indians to Christianity.

By focusing on the Wopanaak language, we are focusing our attentions on a group of people who are integral to American history and deserve tremendous respect. Their role in helping the Pilgrims and the impact it made also removes the monopoly of Anglo-Saxon superiority on how history was recorded. A reporter for CBS News even noted the irony that the Wopanaak-translated Bible that was used to make the Wampanoag Nation into English-speaking subjects ended up being used to bring back their language. This language revitalization project would make American history more complex and give the marginalized Native Americans a voice.

Their voice may have even vocalized the place-names throughout New England, such as Mashpee, Nahant, Swampscott, Natick, and even the state of Massachusetts itself. To increase scholarship into the Wopanaak language is to decipher the etymologies of these place-names, or toponyms. Since those Wopanaak-originated names described the landscape, the research would result in a more grounded interpretation of American history based on the New England geography and a more accurate imagination of how the Pilgrims dealt with this foreign land.

What can be more patriotic than examining the landscape of your own country? That is what makes deciphering the toponyms so important, especially since the indigenous population has an intimate relationship with their landscape and are willing to shape their own beliefs and languages revolving around it. This is where linguists, astrophysicists, and scientists alike can reach a common-ground agreement. K. David Harrison, who traveled to Siberia to record the indigenous languages, stated that 83% of all plant and animal life are unknown to Western scientists. What average Americans can also take from this is that indigenous languages, like Wopanaak, are not as irrelevant as they think.

As well as the landscape, the words and knowledge of the nation present at the first Thanksgiving would be important for young Wampanoag children to acquire for their personal well-being as well as the cultural well-being of their community. In order to have increased scholarship, study, and overall awareness into this part of American history and geography, there needs to be an entire generation of people proficient enough to use it as a first language, just like every other struggling language like Irish Gaelic and Hawai'ian. For this reason, a Wopanaak immersion school for kindergarteners was established in 2015, dedicated to teaching social studies, history, art, science, math, and many other subjects in Wopanaak in more than 1000 lesson plans.

How would I like to see Wopanaak revitalized to include all Americans? There are more clear ways of helping, but I would also like Americans to learn more about the place-names that come from this nation's language during the time the Pilgrims settled. It would help if those areas of New England had Wopanaak translations on their cities' websites, in the same way the Australian city Adelaide has Australian Aboriginal translations on their website. Every Thanksgiving would be the opportunity for Americans to learn salutations and other phrases such as "Hello," "My name is...," and "Thank you" in Wopanaak. These efforts would show that Americans appreciate Thanksgiving as a holiday as well as the recognition of the nation that made it happen.

Cover Image Credit: Patriot Ledger

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High School Summer Vs. College Summer

Summer isn't all fun and games anymore.
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Summer: the most wonderful time of the year. School’s out, obligations are at an all-time low, and life is simple. The only problem - I’m not in high school anymore. This naïve cupcake phase of life is now over, thanks to you, college. Now, free time is a foreign concept to myself along with my peers; summer's not all fun and games as it was in previous years.

School’s out? Ha, you THOUGHT.

What time is it? Summer (school) time! When the final bell rang on the last day of high school, we all jumped for joy and anticipated summer’s freedom filled with the luxurious free time that displaces class time. When you finished your last final in college, you might as well buy class materials for your nearly approaching summer semester. Unlike the good old high school days, summer marks the start for even more time to incorporate school: particularly, summer school. Here lie students who are retaking failed courses and/or those who are behind on classes and need to get ahead. School’s out, scream and shout? You got it all wrong, High School Musical.

Time to intern!

Not only is summer “break” a good time to take some extra classes, but it’s also a perfect time to intern. That’s right, no sleeping in ‘til noon! Don’t forget to set those alarms because college students have to be up and running to gain work experience for their future careers. College students sometimes even endure these long days without any pay, but you gotta do what you gotta do to lock in a post-college job at that ideal company. High school students: props to you if you intern over the summer, I just see it more often among college kids.

Work, work, work.

I had a summer job in high school, but I didn’t work nearly as much as I do now as a college student. Summer is the optimal time to stack up on dollar bills in your savings account. You need money for those ridiculously pricey textbooks (opened quite less often than you’d think), groceries, housing, spending money, and other miscellaneous college expenses. Yeah, you can always work doing the school year, but juggling that along with classes, extracurricular activities, and an eventful social life can be pretty exhausting. Also, it can deter you from getting decent grades (which is why you're in college in the first place).

Vacation? More like no-cation.

Ah, do I miss those summers where I’d be at the beach for weeks on end. With summer classes, a job, and an internship, vacation is just time I no longer have. You can’t just request time off from class, internships, and work! Other (and more important) matters demand your time and effort. If you're lucky, a quick, cheap weekend getaway is you're best bet.

Cover Image Credit: MediaCache

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You're Not Crazy, Your Seasonal Allergies ARE Worse Than They Normally Are

Between all of these symptoms, I've felt miserable the last week.

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We've all been waiting for summer to come, and it's finally on its way. I started putting away my jackets and heavy clothes, and I'm so excited to take out my dresses and bathing suits. Classes are ending for students and we can start the beach trips on these warm, sunny days. What could possibly be wrong with summer coming?

If you have seasonal allergies, specifically to pollen and tree-related allergens, you may be in for a real problem.

In certain states, especially in the northern and eastern US areas, the pollen count is at drastically high levels. So much so that people with only minimal seasonal allergies are having intense reactions, and people who didn't even know they had allergies are having their first reactions.

I've only ever had an itchy nose when seasons change, and only when standing in the middle of lots of plants that would aggravate it. I never suspected my allergies would be making me so sick right now until my physician told me what's going on with this season's allergens.

Since the pollen levels are so dramatic in New York right now, I've had sinus congestion so bad it turned into sinusitis, and a sore throat so swollen and painful I swore it had to be strep. The sinusitis was giving me fevers, aches, and chills, making me feel like I had the flu — all of this traced back to allergies. Between all of these symptoms, I've felt miserable the last week.

Once I started asking around about what my doctor said, several people have told me they're having the same problem with their allergies now. If you're suspicious you may have allergies, get tested and ask your doctor's opinion. It's best to be well-informed on your medical issues so that you'll be prepared if a bad allergy season comes along (like this summer).

If you want to know what the pollen count looks like in your area, go to Pollen.com and allow access to your location — it'll show you a map of the states and their current pollen levels, as well as a specific analysis of the town you live.

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