Awaking a Sleeping Language

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Photo courtesy of Jean Bruce Scott
Pictured left to right: Virginia Carmelo, Seema Sueko, Marie Clements, Jack Dalton, Julie Jensen
To accompany yesterday's post regarding the translation process for Tombs of the Vanishing Indian, Virginia Carmelo has kindly contributed the following reflection which I would like to share with you here:
Last June, I was asked to participate in a theatre workshop for playwrights as a consultant and wondered how I might contribute. It became clearer when I was presented the play written by Marie Clements. The play includes a theme about a Gabrielino ancestor. 
I had expected to translate a “few lines” into Tongva the language spoken by the Gabrielino/ Tongva Indians of the Los Angeles Basin. When I realized the few lines amounted to several pages, it became intimidating, as I have only studied this language a very short time (5 years) and I am one of only a few who have studied what is left of the language. Nevertheless I felt I could make a good attempt with the help of the linguist who has graciously given much of her valuable time to our effort.
While meeting with Marie Clements and Michelle St. John, I was impressed with their interest in fine tuning the various aspects relating to the Gabrielino Tribe, striving for authenticity. It was refreshing to find a commonality of ideas on Native topics and portrayal. This was possible because we all shared a native background and experience. A wave of excitement struck me by the possibility that this now sleeping language might not only be spoken but heard by many people here and in distant places. The thought was inspiring and awesome. It would be a tribute to those who knew no other language.
Then, there was mild concern that Carla-Rae would not have enough time to allow those sounds from long ago become familiar to her. Again, I was impressed by her focus in bringing age-old sounds to life.
I am privileged play a small part in putting together this creative endeavor that brings to light the Gabrielinos, their language, and history.
Virginia, thank you for your graciousness in sharing the language of the Gabrielino/ Tongva people with us. For that, we will be eternally grateful.
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