Learning Diné bizaad

Students at Tuba schools have affinity for language

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Children at Tuba City Elementary School enjoy an awards ceremony for their proficiency in Diné Bizaad.

By Krista Allen
Special to the Times

TÓNANEESDIZÍ

Sitting around their 95-year-old great-grandmother, Berna Little, Eileen Haskie’s grandchildren listen to her speak Navajo to them, teaching them about their identity rooted in history and in language.

Little helps her great-grandchildren speak Diné Bizaad and then listens to them repeat words, phrases, and sentences. Little also listens to them talk while they play, making her chuckle sometimes when her great-grandchildren say a word or sentence incorrectly. Little is helping them connect to their Diné roots and teaching them to carry on the colorful tradition and language.

Haskie is also teaching her grandchildren about the Diné lifestyle and tells them stories about her upbringing in Naatsis’áán-Rainbow City, Utah, which she calls home.

“My dad and mom used to wake us (early every morning) and we had to go herd sheep or card wool if we were (unoccupied), earning some time to read Archie comic books at the end of the day,” Haskie said.

“(My parents) didn’t allow for us to sit around,” she said. “Nowadays, (the young people) are on the phone.”


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Categories: Education