Navajo Nation recognizes high school graduates for Navajo language proficiency
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Proud parents looked on as Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez congratulated six students June 24 for taking the initiative to learn the Navajo language and successfully complete the Navajo Nation Seal of Bilingual Proficiency Assessment.
Of more than 30 students who took the bilingual language assessment in January, six demonstrated proficiency. These students include the following: Tomilethia Chee, Rydale Largo, Justin Castillo, Alexandria Begay, Adiidiin Jones and Natiana King.
The Office of Standards, Curriculum and Assessment Development administers the assessment each year to graduating high school seniors who voluntarily register to participate.
“As Navajo people, we are born with our Diné language within us and it is up to us to bring it out by practicing and learning from our parents and grandparents,” Nez said. “We have many young Navajo people who don’t speak or understand our language, but we shouldn’t ridicule them or look down on them. We should encourage them to keep learning and to pray and ask our Creator to help them to speak and understand our sacred language. Looking back to the time when our people were taken on the Long Walk, it was our language and our prayers that gave our people the strength to persevere and return to our homelands. The power of our language helped to win World War II and it can help you to achieve what you want in life.”
During the event, each student introduced themselves and briefly spoke about the importance of learning and carrying on the Navajo language. Each of the students was also presented with a plaque and an honorary blanket from the Department of Diné Education for their achievements.
During the oral assessment, students must use the Navajo language to appropriately introduce themselves by stating their name and clans, introduce their parents and grandparents, and speak about their personal interests, hobbies and goals. They must also complete an oral presentation on a given topic, respond to questions from the Office of Standards, Curriculum and Assessment Development, and summarize and analyze a video clip on a cultural topic.