December 17, 2006

No language, no identity

Vanishing identity?Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. expressed to the world the importance of Navajo language during a June speech delivered to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The speech was in Paris.

"For one to truly be Diné, one must speak the language of the Diné. Only in this way will one understand the songs, the prayers and ceremonies that have been passed down orally through countless generations of our people," he said.

So when the 2006 Data Trends Summary for Annual Health Survey revealed that only 5 percent of Navajo school-aged children could speak Navajo fluently, tribal leaders and educators re-energized their effort, to find a way to keep and revitalize their language. They consider it the basis of Navajo identity.

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