Several of us recently saw a documentary called "The Language You Cry In" and it occurred to us that the dominant theme of this film is something that connects very strongly to the Turtle Island Initiative's goal of raising awareness about the importance of indigeny.

This documentary profiles a Gullah woman, the grand daughter of a slave woman. Her grand mother kept alive a song that we later find out is from the Mende tribe in Africa. It was the only fragment of heritage and ancestry that she had and none of the descendants knew what the song meant. It was just something grandma had passed down to them. Through the course of the documentary, we find out that the song is a tribal song meant to connect one to one's ancestors. It was the one thing that the first of their ancestors to be sold into slavery brought with her, the one thing she passed down to her children and her children's children and beyond: a song, a piece of medicine, with the power to connect one to one's tribe and people.

the documentary traces the work of linguists, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and Mende tribal members as they unravel the mystery of this song (which isn't a mystery at all to the Mende woman who recognizes the song). In the end, the Gullah woman, a descendant of people ripped away from tribe and culture, returns to her ancestral soil and is greeted by her people. It's a powerful example of exactly what our ancestors can do, and how even if we do not know from where we come, they do and always, always if we reach out, they will bring us home.

the documentary may be purchased here:

we highly recommend it.

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