“Meanwhile, we are also seeing more and more documentation about major indigenous language crisis or language decline and loss. Is this why we seeing more and more quest for formal Federal tribal recognition? This may be the beginning of a major pan-national tribal cultural renaissance.
Dr. Begay pointed out revenue’s role in native culture’s revival.
“It is pretty evident that the current resurgence in tribalism by many people across our nation is driven not by culture and language interest and revival but more by casino revenues, the potentially high profitable economics of tribalism,” he said. Is there a lesson to be learned from this?
“Maybe if our language and culture had a price tag, or if there were dollars associated with it, we as speakers of our indigenous languages would have a thriving economy or even be millionaires.”
Dr. Begay explained that the presenters would share their thoughts on the non-commercial aspects of sustaining our native language and culture.
“We could also dialogue on the potential profitability of native language and cultures, seeing how we are an educational institution,” he said. “As an educational institution, it is important that we take the lead in shedding light on the value of our language and culture.”
Dr. Begay stressed the importance of retaining native language.
“You may also hear or have heard quite often that our language and culture are priceless,” he said. “If that is the case, why is it so expensive to have a traditional ceremony?
“With English education, learning their language and culture is not priceless but rather, it is extremely expensive in more ways than one, especially with us as native peoples. There is a huge exacting cost incurred when we are native peoples lose ourselves in English education.”
According to Dr. Begay, there are many questions to raise on the value of native language.
“As you go about the country, we often hear other nationalities converse with their young in their native tongue,” he said. But, with our native peoples, we seem to make it a point to converse with our children in only one foreign language, the English language. Why?
“ I am hoping that today’s speakers and presenters will allow us the opportunity to dialogue on the value of our native language and culture, not only for the present, but for years to come.”
Tuba City District currently has a Navajo language program developed for grades kindergarten to 12t grade and, in the spring of 2004, will implement a Hopi language program for its junior high and high school students.