A language dies every 15 days. According to UNESCO, on 6000 to 7000 that are now spoken worldwide, half of them will be dead before the end of the century.
A projection that seems so far away from us. But at the other end of the world, men and women experience this pain and struggle not to become mere statistics. It is there that we want to take you. At the other end of the world: Alaska.
Discovering the Eyak people, and their struggle to save their language, and with it, their history!
Marie Smith Jones died in 2008. She was the last native born speaker of Eyak. The language is officially off with it, leaving all his tribe orphan. Before dying, Chief Mary told her people that he did not have to mourn her passing, because she felt that "someone would come from far away to help them."
And she was right. Two years later, a 21 year-old frenchman, Guillaume Leduey, arrived from Le Havre (Normandy, France), some 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) away, to discover the Eyak people. A people whose language he had learned only through encyclopedias, archives, internet. All the while welcomed as a prophet as the one who could "save" them.
Two years later, in 2013, he is assistant linguistic research for the University of Fairbanks and has written more than 3,000 manuscript pages of a future Eyak-English dictionary. He works full time from his home in Normandy, and every summer he returned to the Eyak native land in Cordova to help the Indian to relearn their own language.
The survival instinct of a people in distress has crossed paths with a young French who decided to devote them a part of his life. Together, they now share the same struggle: to live the legacy of Eyak. Ancestors of the first one, passion of the second one.
Here is the story we want to tell you ... You follow us?
... We who? Good question.
Marie-Christine Carfantan and Vincent Bonnay
The first is a writer and director for the Paris-based production company specializing in documentary Peignoir Prod. She is our pen. To her credit, already several films 52' as co-director and author (Disseminated on LCP, France 3, France O, Equidia) and many achievements in reports magazine size (Equidia).
The second is journalist-reporter-cameraman. "Mr. Camera" of this team. Back from a year in New York where he worked for the news agency Keep In News, covering news for French television channels (TF1, M6, AFP, TV5 Monde), he works mainly for the news channel i> Télé.
Our collaboration began on journalism school benches and has never ceased. Two journalists, a pen and a camera. Two looks in the same direction ... Alaska!