There are Heroes Everywhere

Although the news snippets focus upon her death, the real story resides in the way she connected lives through story:

Martinez was honored along with 11 other folk and traditional artists as a 2006 National Heritage Fellow, the NEA said in a news release. The fellowship includes an award of $20,000.

She received a standing ovation in the nation's capital for her stories and life's work preserving her native Tewa language and traditions...

Martinez was born and raised in northern New Mexico, the NEA said in a biography. Her American Indian name is P'oe Tswa, or Blue Water, but she was known by many as Ko'oe Esther, or Aunt Esther.

She spent much of her childhood living with her grandparents and visited her parents by traveling in a covered wagon.

She was a major conservator of the Tewa language, teaching her native tongue from 1974 to 1989 at schools in Ohkay Owingeh, formerly known as San Juan Pueblo.

She also helped translate the New Testament of the Bible into Tewa and compiled Tewa dictionaries for pueblos, which have distinct dialects, the NEA said.

Since 1988, Martinez told her stories in English to non-Tewa audiences through Storytelling International.


Anonymous said...

Lovely story. Your snip seems to encourage folk artists and others working to revitalize native languages. How much can we (they) do to save near-dead languages? Is their work futile?

Doc Mara said...

Their work isn't futile. I was able to take Navajo in graduate school, a language that was once in danger (and still continues to be, in reality), because of the brave work of these artists/folk.