Jessie Little Doe Baird

2020 YBCA 100 Honoree

Jessie Little Doe Baird is a linguist who is reviving Wampanoag (or Wôpanâak), the Algonquian language of her ancestors, a long-silent language and restoring to her Native American community a vital sense of its cultural heritage. Determined to breathe life back into the language, Baird founded the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, an intertribal effort that aims to return fluency to the Wampanoag Nation. She undertook graduate training in linguistics and language pedagogy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to achieving fluency herself, she has adapted her scholarly work into accessible teaching materials for adults and children and leads a range of educational programs with the goal of establishing a broad base of Wampanoag speakers. Through painstaking research, dedicated teaching, and contributions to other groups struggling with language preservation, Baird is reclaiming the rich linguistic traditions of indigenous peoples and preserving precious links to our nation’s complex past.

Jessie Little Doe Baird received an M.Sc. (2000) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has served as the co-founder and director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project in Mashpee, Massachusetts, since 1993.