Diné College students help preserve oral histories

Diné College and Winona State University students work on an oral history documentary film recording the life stories of four Navajo elders. Submitted photo

Diné College and Winona State University students work on an oral history documentary film recording the life stories of four Navajo elders. Submitted photo

TSALIE, Ariz. - The life stories of four Navajo elders are featured in a student-made documentary film, which will premiere at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona Sept. 14 at the College Museum.

The premiere and reception begins at 5 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Ned Hatathli Center and is free and open to the public.

Six Diné College students collaborated with 11 students from Winona State University to research, interview, photograph and video record Navajo elders in a 19-day period between May-June.

The students who participated in the 2015 Navajo Oral History Project, wrote, edited and produced documentary films that will be archived at the Navajo Nation Museum and Library, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.

The premiere will feature commentary from faculty and students of both Diné College and Winona State University.

This year's film focuses on Louva Dahozy, a community leader, educator and broadcaster from Fort Defiance, Arizona; Tony Goldtooth Sr., a Navajo language and culture professor from Shiprock, New Mexico; Peggy Scott, a retired teacher and community activist from Chinle, Arizona and Bill Toldeo, a Navajo Code Talker during WW II, from Torreon, New Mexico.

The documentaries are part of a collaborative project led by Dr. Miranda Haskie, a professor of social and behavioral science at Diné College and Dr. Tom Grier and Robbie Christiano, from the mass communication department at Winona State University.

During the sixth year of the Navajo Oral History Project, student teams completed service projects for the elders and interviewed each elder several times. They also interviewed family members and conducted background research while on the Navajo Nation.

DVD copies of the student-produced films will be available for sale for $20 each, with all proceeds going to a scholarship fund at Diné College.

The Diné College students involved in the 2015 Navajo Oral History Project are:

Kyle Brown, Lukachukai, Arizona; Kaitlyn Haskie, Lukachukai, Arizona; Anna Shepherd, Chilchinbeto, Arizona; Brandon Tayah, Chinle, Arizona; Stephanie Tsosie, Low Mountain, Arizona; and Shelly Wheeler, Lukachukai, Arizona.

The Winona State University students involved in the 2015 Navajo Oral History Project are:

Jordan Gerard, a journalism major from Spring Grove, Minnesota; Jacob Hilsabeck, a photojournalism major from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; Reagan Johnson, a transmedia major from Randolph, Wisconsin; Kacie Mann, a public relations major from Maple Grove, Minnesota; Tobias Mann, a journalism major from Thief River Falls, Minnesota; and

Nate Nelson, a computer science and mass communication major from Corvallis, Oregon; Taylor Nyman, a photography and digital imaging major from Monroe Center, Illinois; Casie Rafferty, a journalism major from Winona, Minnesota; Kim Schneider, a journalism major from Roseville, Minnesota; Samantha Stetzer, a journalism major from Holmen, Wisconsin; and Ben Strand, a journalism major from Burnsville, Minnesota.

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