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Navajo President Promotes Increased Use of Diné Language

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The president of the Navajo Nation is encouraging increased use of the tribe’s traditional language. At a Bureau of Indian Education symposium Friday, President Russell Begaye described the benefits of bilingual or immersive education for students. In a release, he said the education enhances students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and can help them become more competitive globally.


He also said educators and families should work to undo the Federal assimilation policies in the past that prohibited Navajo children from using their native language. He explained that treating English as the tribe’s second language would help ensure tribal sovereignty and preserve its identity. He encouraged Navajo families to use their language in the home in order to “plant the seeds” for its expanded use.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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