How is the language of the Navajo people important in their daily life?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that one of the most overwhelming and significant importance of the language to the Navajo people is that it provides a way for them to communicate indigenous to their own being.  Given the fact that like all Native American tribes, the Navajo have had to endure seeing their way of life and their own sense of identity dramatically and drastically altered by White society, being able to speak their own language is extremely important to their own sense of collective identity and in their daily life.  Being able to speak their own language to one another on a daily basis is a reflection of how the ways of the Navajo can continue in the midst of a world in which their collective voice is not readily acknowledged or validated.  In a culture that had to endure realities such as The Long Walk and forcible relegation to the peripheries, being able to communicate in a language that is different culturally and phonetically from English is extremely important.  It can be seen as a symbol of resistance on a daily basis in that no matter what happens to the Navajo, the language of their ancestors and thus their cultural identity will continue.

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