In the United States more than 130 Native American languages are endangered. Several are on the verge of extinction with only a handful of fluent speakers remaining. Wukchumni language is one of those languages. Today, there are approximately 200 Wukchumni tribe members left, and only one of them can speak their language fluently – Marie Wilcox.
This short documentary, by filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, tells the story of Marie and the dictionary she created in an effort to keep her language alive.
The 80-year-old woman spent more than seven years developing the reference book, and is now recording the words along with traditional Wukchumni stories, so the pronunciation of the language is clear for future generations.
But it doesn’t end there. Marie’s work to preserve her spoken heritage has made her an unexpected advocate for other tribes struggling to regain their languages. Along with her daughter Jennifer, Marie travels to conferences throughout California and meets other tribes who also struggle with language loss.
What an incredible amount of energy, patience, perseverance and resilience… Marie is definitely a woman you should know!