The Chaldean Catholic community is an ancient Christian community that speaks a dialect of neo-Aramaic. At its largest, the historical community extended throughout modern-day Iraq and beyond. The current Middle Eastern community is now concentrated in the north of Iraq, but large numbers of community members have emigrated to the United States and Canada over the last century. Some are now moving to Europe and Australia as well.
Although the Chaldean Catholic community has experienced the destruction of its material legacy—churches, monasteries, and other monuments—and the persecution and exile of its people, it remains committed to preserving its own history. Members of the community are eager to cooperate with the CCME Project team in order to build an extensive record of the life of their people in their native land. The CCME Project began its initiative with the Chaldean Catholic community. Our collaborative effort intends to record both elderly members of the community whose memories of life in their native towns are of crucial value, as well as the experiences of recent arrivals forced to come to the United States because of displacement or persecution in their native country. Most of these recent immigrants have come from Baghdad, Mosul, and the neighboring towns and villages of the Nineveh Plain.
To date, members of the Project team have established strong connections with community and church leaders in the greater Detroit area, where many Chaldean Christians have settled. With the enthusiastic cooperation of the community and its bishop, Francis Kalabat, we have begun to collect documents and record interviews with community elders. The community has assembled a team of interviewers that has begun to record these interviews when members of the CCME team cannot be present.
Most recently, the CCME Project, in collaboration with the Chaldean Heritage Society, was awarded a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council for showcasing the heritage of the community in Michigan. This will culminate in a forthcoming documentary, “Chaldeans from Iraq to Detroit: Documenting and Presenting Community Memories.”