Taubotne means Thanks or Thank You (informal version) in the language of the Nipmuc people. It is one of only a few words that I know in the language. It is one of only a few words that many people know in the language, because it is a language was once considered extinct – no one has spoken it fluently for many, many years. The Nipmuc Language reclamation project will change that. Now, the tribe is holding classes and workshops to revive the language of this place I call home. Though I’m not currently involved in this work, I find it to be equal parts fascinating and complex.
I’m not going to give a history lesson here, or dive too deeply into my feelings about the loss of an ancestral language, but I will give a shameless plug: I created an online exhibition a little over a year ago, titled “From English to Algonquian: Early New England Translations.” The exhibition explores several 17th century Algonquian-language texts (the Nipmuc people spoke a dialect of the Algonquian language) and how those texts are being used to revive native languages. In addition to the work happening in Nipmuc Country, this reclamation work is happening now among many other New England tribes, including the Wampanoag and Mohegan. Please check out the exhibition or other pages linked if you’re interested in knowing more.
As for this card, I kept it pretty simple. First I did a simple watercolor wash and then used letter dies for the sentiment, cutting them from the panel and popping them up across the front of the card. I then stamped a simple thank you as a sub-sentiment to provide the English translation of taubotne.
I can’t wait to make more of these, using other words, very soon!