May 25, 2007

Digital TV at Ramah

'Hogan Heroes' bring digital accessRamah Navajo's digital signal has a radius of 30 miles.

The premier broadcast featured Navajo language speakers Jeanne Whitehorse, of the New Mexico State Tribal Libraries Program, and Kee Long, from the Office of Navajo Nation Broadcast Services.

"This will give the children an opportunity to listen to their language and watch it being spoken. And, since it's on television the whole family can get involved. It's the best way to preserve the Navajo language," Jeanne Whitehorse said

Tsosie would like to see more programming in the Navajo language for children.

"Why can't PBS's Big Bird learn Navajo?" Tsosie wondered. "We could teach him. Our children are always watching television, if they could watch Big Bird and learn Navajo as they eat their cereal in the morning, they could become fluent in both Navajo and English."

May 11, 2007

Diné Language Arts and Cultural Fair

Diné learning aids student progress, principal saysResearch shows that young children have the ability to learn two or four languages and that doing so will not negatively their progress in math, science, English or other subjects, she said.

She said that as students learn Navajo, some even do better than students who speak only English.

Benally said the academic achievements of her students is the reason her staff disagree with the English-only campaign, which claims that speaking a language other than English prevents a student from excelling academically.

May 08, 2007

Money is the root

Tribal-language teaching strugglesThe Office of Public Instruction doesn't have a budget for language preservation.

"We're doing very little because we don't have any money dedicated to language programs," said Lynn Hinch, the bilingual specialist for the state Office of Public Instruction. "We need a K-12 program. Teachers here talked about teaching three times a week for 15 minutes. You can't teach a language in 15 minutes. Spanish teachers wouldn't put up with that. English teachers wouldn't put up with that. Math teachers wouldn't put up with that."

Tribal languages have "little support at the state level," said Hinch.
Why is that the case?American Indians say they lack state support because they are still fighting historic assimilation practices that stripped indigenous people of their language, said Henrietta Mann, a Montana State University professor emeritus.

"Those that came to live with us were steeped in their own cultural world views and wanted everyone else to be like them, to the way we were educated to the way we're supposed to think," said Mann. "In order to accomplish that, they sought to destroy Native languages.

"You still have this tendency to want to change us, to homogenize us. It hasn't changed," said Mann.