Marie Wilcox Has
Created A Dictionary To Protect Wukchumni From Extinction.
As a direct result of colonization, many indigenous languages
throughout the Americas have disappeared or are in danger of doing
so. In the US alone, there are 130 endangered Native American languages.
Among them is the Wukchumni language, spoken by the Yokuts of California.
There is just one remaining fluent speaker: Marie Wilcox, who is
fighting to keep Wukchumni alive.
This short film, directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee for Go Project
Films, is dedicated to her. In the film, Wilcox says that she stopped
speaking Wukchumni when her grandmother died. However, when she
heard her sisters trying to teach their daughters, she started to
go back to it word for word. Over the course of seven years, she
and her daughter, Jennifer, worked on making a Wukchumni dictionary.
Though the language isnt traditionally written, Wilcox
saw this as a way to preserve Wukchumni for future generations.
This task is made even more pressing by the fact that Wukchumni
is the only surviving dialect of the Tule-Kaweah language.
Once the dictionary was finished, Wilcox set about on an equally
important task: recording the sound of her language. Now, she works
with her grandson, who in the video is shown speaking freely with
her in Wukchumni, to record the sound of each word in the dictionary,
as well as the tribes mythology. Wilcox and her daughter also
offer weekly language classes so that tribe members can regain the
language and achieve fluency.