EAST HAMPTON, N.Y., May 30, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY has announced a groundbreaking exhibit, First Literature Project, the first VR media produced in the Shinnecock Language. Developed over a 2-year period by Guild Hall Community Artists-in-Residence Wunetu Wequai Tarrant and Christian Scheider, the exhibition is open through July 14, 2024. The First Literature Project (FLP) proposes to support Native nations in their efforts to maintain and further their languages, narratives, and oral traditions, making them available to both their tribal communities and surrounding areas. By utilizing FLP’s new immersive storytelling platform in Virtual Reality (VR), advanced 3D technology is repurposed to recreate an important tradition— sitting face-to-face with a storyteller.

“The significance of having a platform to share our history cannot be understated,” shares Wunetu Wequai Tarrant. “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 utilizes newly released Apple Vision Pro headsets 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, Haile’s granddaughter. The exhibition also features video works by members of the Shinnecock language revitalization collective, Ayim Kutoowonk, and includes interviews with members of the Shinnecock Nation through a collaboration with The Padoquohan Medicine Lodge.

The project has been the recipient of several grants, including the Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employment Grant (CRNY AEP) and the Library of Congress’ Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) award, which is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path initiative. The project has been developed through the study of various primary source documents, including the “Eliot Indian Bible,” held in the Rare Book & Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, published between 1660-1663. It is also the first complete Bible printed in America, and is translated from English to the Niatick dialect of the North East Algonquin Tribes. The Bible holds significance for the Shinnecock language, as Shinnecock ancestor, Caconoe D’Long Island, was a primary contributor for The Book Of Genesis, and it is currently the only document in Shinnecock within the collection of the Library of Congress.

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SOURCE Guild Hall

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