Governor unveils first Navajo language textbook

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By Carol A. Clark

Gov. Bill Richardson traveled to Gallup and Farmington recently to talk with high school students and Navajo leaders about the first Navajo textbook, Dine Bizaad Binahoo’aah (Rediscovering the Navajo Language).

This is the first time that a text written by a Navajo author has been adopted as a textbook for teaching the Navajo language.

The textbook, written by Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, professor of Navajo at Northern Arizona University, and Dr. Margaret Speas, professor of linguistics at the University of Massachusetts was adopted as a state approved textbook in July.

School districts may now conduct their own reviews and selections of new texts that will be in the classroom beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.

Both the Gallup and the Farmington school districts have begun to use the new textbook this school year.

“I thank Dr. Parsons Yazzie and Dr. Speas for your commitment to this project and for your dedication to helping preserve the Navajo language,” Richardson said.

“One of my first acts as governor was to sign the state’s Indian Education Act, which among other things, calls for culturally relevant instructional materials and preserving native languages. Your textbook is a commitment to our Native American students and the Navajo Nation that your language will continue.”

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