New Mexico Adopts Navajo Language Textbook

Last Updated: October 10, 2008

This article appeared in the October 2008 Rural Policy Matters

New Mexico has become the first state to adopt a textbook teaching the Navajo language. Rediscovering the Navajo Language by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, a professor at Northern Arizona University, is slated for use in 10 New Mexico districts as well as federal Bureau of Indian Education schools in the state. The textbook and coursework respond to the reality that nearly half of the Navajo children living on the tribe's reservations speak only English at home.

Navajo books were burned during World War II to prevent the enemy from learning the language, which was used as a top secret code. In the past, Navajo students have frequently been banned from speaking Navajo at school.

Read more from the October 2008 Rural Policy Matters.