Teacher Shares Knowledge of Navajo Language

CLEARFIELD, Utah — Classes at a community college teach some Davis School District students the Navajo language.
Teacher Patricia Benally decided to get involved in the extra-curricular enrichment class after enrolling her daughter in the district, reported the Standard-Examiner.

Benally says she initially didn’t realize how special it was growing up in Arizona and attending a reservation school and getting lessons in Navajo, as well as English.

“Now I see there is a demand (from) parents that do live off the reservation that are Navajo; they actually are yearning for that culture, classes and awareness,” she said.

She said only one girl in her Navajo language class is not Native American.vThe Title VI program is funded by the Office of Indian Education. Students learn the language and hear about cultural issues as well.
“Really I’m trying to instill their culture,” she said. “That’s their identity as a Navajo person.”

One recent class included a video on Navajo health professionals and the cultural belief against touching the dead.

Benally, who is also studying elementary education at Weber State University, said the class exposes its students to the language and culture earlier.

“I feel me being here as a Navajo student coming from the Southwest, I’m bringing diversity and cultural awareness and as a student ambassador that’s my goal,” she said.

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