Marie’s Dictionary: One woman’s quest to save her Native American language

Marie’s Dictionary is a mini documentary which tells the story of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of a Native American language.

Marie Wilcox has created a dictionary in an effort to keep the Wukchumni language alive.

The Wukchumni tribe is part of the broader Yokuts tribal group native to Central California; the tribe has yet to be recognised by the federal government. As many as 50,000 Yokuts lived in the region before European contact, but numbers have greatly diminished. Today, it is estimated that fewer than 200 Wukchumni remain.

Marie Wilcox has spent more than seven years working on the dictionary. In this short film, filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee shows her journey to save her language and ensure that its passed on to her fellow tribes people for generations.

The language is now being taught to tribe members at a local career centre, yet the language still struggles to gain traction and move beyond an elementary level. Through her hard work, Marie hopes that her dictionary will support the revitalisation of the Wukchumni language for future generations.

UNESCO estimates that half of the 7,000 living languages spoken today will disappear if nothing is done to preserve them. In the United States, many Native American languages are struggling to survive—more than 130 of these languages are currently at risk, with 74 languages considered “critically endangered,” according to UNESCO. Each of these endangered languages preserve priceless cultural heritage.

Global Oneness Project

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, wellbeing, and entertainments. Rosa also works as a psychic, counsellor, intuitive reader and spiritual life coach helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives:


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