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Next month, a new language exhibit will open in East Hampton, New York, featuring virtual media produced in the Shinnecock Language.

The project was developed over two years by Shinnecock Indian Nation citizen Wunetu Wequai Tarrant and filmmaker Christian Scheide, with support from the First Literature Project. First Literature Project is an organization that supports Native nations in maintaining and furthering their languages, narratives, and oral traditions through a new immersive storytelling platform.

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“The significance of having a platform to share our history cannot be understated,” said Wequai Tarrant in a statement. “A wealth of knowledge is left out when the only accounts of Indigenous cultures available are written by outside anthropologists and authors. The FLP's method will bring our stories into the 21st century, using our voices, our faces, and sharing our perspectives.”

The exhibition will utilize the newly released Apple Vision Pro headset to present the story

Padawe, originally written in English by Elizabeth Chee Chee Thunderbird Haile,now newly translated and narrated in the Shinnecock language by Wunetu Wequai Tarrant, Chee Chee Haile's granddaughter. The exhibition will also feature video works by members of the Shinnecock language revitalization collective, as well as interviews with members of the Shinnecock Nation over the last two years.

“This was a long process that had to move at the speed of trust,” said Scheider in a statement. “To begin, we were invited into homes, into gathering places, into backyards, and when we arrived all we did was turn the cameras on and listen. In close to 100 hours of footage, we asked only a handful of questions. That is always the sign when you know you are where you need to be. There was so much that needed to be said - there still is.Our role, even more than creating this new format, is to listen, and to remember what we hear.”

The exhibition will be open at Guild Hall on May 18, and remain open through July 15. Admission is free, and timed entry is required to experience First Literature Project’s virtual-reality work. Additional programing includes:

  •       Thursday, May 23, 6pm: Artist Talk with Peter Fisher, Chistian Scheider, & Wunetu Wequai Tarrant
  •       Thursday, May 30, 6pm: Artist Talk with Ayim Kutoowonk, Andrina Wekontash Smith, & Wunetu Wequai Tarrant.
  •       Monday, June 17, 6pm: Creative Lab with Ahanu Valdez

 

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