Navajo language under assessment

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By Carol A. Clark

In an effort to measure language capabilities of Navajo students, the New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) Indian Education Division and the Navajo Nation’s Office of Dine Culture, Language and Community Services (ODCLCS) are collaborating with seven public school districts to pilot a recently developed Navajo Language Assessment. This new process will help determine students’ Navajo language mastery levels.Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has been instrumental in passing a bill, along with Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., who could not be reached for comment.In an interview this morning, Udall said, “Over the years, we have witnessed an alarming trend of disappearing Native American languages. The good news is that lawmakers and communities have begun to respond with collaborations like this to help mitigate the severity of the threat to these languages.” He continued, “During my time in Congress, I have had the great honor of visiting the pueblos in my district and learning their cultures. I have learned that all across New Mexico tribes are losing their languages, a beautiful inheritance that can never be replaced.”When a language is lost,  he said, “we lose a part of the beautiful cultural tapestry that makes America what it is. When we lose a Native American language, we lose a piece of history.

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