A film by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. More at Global Oneness Project.

There are only about 200 remaining members of the Wukchumni of central California, and Marie Wilcox is the last fluent speaker of her tribal language. Like most Native Americans, the Wukchumni did not write their language. The 80-year-old Ms. Wilcox has spent the last 7 years writing a dictionary of Wukchumni and giving weekly lessons to her daughter and other tribal members, but few seem dedicated enough to learn to speak the language fluently. With the help of her grandson, Ms. Wilcox is now recording the dictionary, as well as traditional stories like the "How We Got Our Hands" parable featured in this film.


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  • Barbara Worsham

    This is how you preserve your history. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Daniel Jordan

    Your dedication to keep both your language and culture alive is very important for the survival of all people. Our survival rests on knowing the many different ways of understanding life. You are an inspiration to the world.

  • Vandi

    Marie flourished when she realized the importance of what she shared from her ancestors. It was very moving watching her communicate with her grandson in this beautiful language.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Here's to how one person with determination can make a huge difference. Thank you Marie, for doing all you can to preserve your heritage and language. How I hope your example inspires others to also want to learn again. I am a Storyteller and understand the value of Story and Language to a people. Thank you to Emmanuel for sharing her Story and seeing her value.

  • shrew

    The strength and the support marie has is wonderful and inspiring.

  • Natver

    How ordinary person can make extraordinary contribution to maintain information for future use. What love for heritage

  • Rosemary Nishikawa

    Emmanuel, thank you for finding this subject important enough to document. Well done documentary. I found Marie very inspiring. Sweet story of preserving an important piece of history.

  • Lynn

    The tenacity of the older woman and the conversation in the Wukchumni language between she and her grandson.

  • Elizabeth Hawkins Robinson

    The Beauty Way. Thank you for telling this story!!

  • Vicki Contente

    This is truly inspiring! By videotaping this wise woman, future generations will have access to the cultural knowledge of their ancestors as well as the language of their foremothers and fathers! I love the family involvement, grandmother to grand daughter, mother to daughter, grandmother and mother to son, lovely!

  • Jennifer the second

    If she can do such a thing, and inspire her daughter and grandson to take part, it seems as though linguists or other language experts should be actively pursuing assistance. Cataloging and perhaps restoring dying languages seems like the stuff of dreams for Masters & PhD candidates in Linguistics or History. What a wonderful life work!

  • Joseph Jastrab

    I am of European descent yet I found this video comforting even though I will never learn this language. In the same way I am comforted knowing there are people who are saving seeds in seed libraries to ensure that the diversity of plants will be available in the future. Words are like seeds. Languages and stories are libraries. Thank you for this generous gift.

  • Marsha Nelson,PH.D.

    This is truly a beautiful video. I honor those that hold traditions dear to their hearts. Please keep your heritage alive, it is all that you have left from your ancestors that can be communicated in only a way that you know in your soul. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jennifer

    This brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful woman and a wonderful project!

  • Towanda M. Allen

    Wow! What a thought! We have to be willing to support this cause and get our children involved too!

  • Page 1

  • Learn more about the Global Oneness Project, which brings stories like Marie's Dictionary to classrooms around the U.S.
  • Culture is deeply embedded in language. Learn how some Native American tribes are embracing technology to try and save their languages from extinction.
  • Do you have a tradition or saying that has been passed on through the generations? Keep it going by teaching it to the young people in your life.

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