Marie’s Dictionary

By Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee | Documentary
She's the last Native American to speak her language. So she created a dictionary to keep it alive.

Marie Wilcox is the last living speaker of Wukchumni language, a Native American dialect originating with tribes native to Central California. Over 70 languages in the world are “critically endangered” — not only will the words be lost, but also the nuanced knowledge of the natural world that informs many of these languages.

In an effort to keep her language and cultural heritage alive, Marie spends more than seven years to create an extraordinary dictionary — the most extensive of its kind — painstakingly preserving her language, and the ideas and history behind the words.

With the help of her family, Marie fights to preserve her past in order to build the future — all while strengthening the bonds between family in the present.

Poetic, fascinating and emotionally affecting, this short documentary combines intimate camerawork with traditional interviews to immerse viewers in Marie’s world: her history, her family and her values.

“Marie’s Dictionary” isn’t just about the book at the center of its story — it’s a profound exploration about the importance of ancestors and family, and what we truly inherit from the past that makes us who we are now.




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